FORT WORTH, Texas (SWBTS) – Summertime at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary often means two things: rising temperatures and a quiet campus. However, students passing by the Recreation and Aerobics Center (RAC) on a weekday morning throughout the months of June and July heard the dribble of a basketball or the jubilant squeal of a child who swims a backstroke for the first time.
Thanks to the summer camps made possible by the RAC staff, families at Southwestern did not have to search the metroplex for fun activities. Children experienced a week of basketball, swimming, or ballet at an affordable rate.
“Our prices are just a lot better than what you can get in Fort Worth,” says student activities coordinator Tyler Durham. But more than that, Durham adds, the RAC is “trying to enhance the student life on campus.”
With instructors who have a love for sports and a passion for the Gospel, weeklong camps offered children quality athletic expertise as well as a grasp of who Jesus is. The coaching staff consisted of Anthony Moore, a college basketball NAIA national champion and Southwestern director of student life, and other RAC staff who have been playing sports all their lives. During camp, the children learned basic skills related to each sport while also learning valuable life lessons.
“With sports, you can teach them principles in their lives: sportsmanship, honesty, (and) integrity,” intramural director Tim Hare says. Children gain confidence and work as a team while they learn about the triple threat position or how to do a plié.
Yet, one important truth set this camp apart from others: the message of Jesus Christ. Above all, the purpose of the summer camp series was to present the Gospel in an authentic way that children would understand.
“If they never learn how to dribble but they learn to follow the Lord closely, that’s our goal,” says RAC assistant director James Williams.
Each day at camp included a Bible lesson focused on the necessity of a relationship with Christ. Additionally, children heard the message from people who wanted to invest in their lives.
“We always want to point them back to their parents and how they shepherd,” Williams says. “It’s not as if we know them that week and never see them again, but we continue, as they come in to talk and play with them, and hopefully through those relationships reinforce their parents’ teaching.”
Tyler Durham, lead instructor of the water camp for the second year in a row, recounted the excitement that filled the pool area for another day of camp.
“You know they’ve been looking forward to this for 12 hours,” Durham remembered. “You’re with them for four or five hours every day solid for one week. It’s amazing how in one week you really build a relationship with a kid and influence him.”
That influence began with the summer camps at the RAC but does not end there. Swimming a lap or nailing a free throw combined with the practical truth of the Gospel allows children of all ages to make memories they will never forget.