About 150 boys spent this past week playing, learning and experiencing the great outdoors at the RA & Challenger Camp at Timberline Baptist Camp and Conference Center in Lindale.
RA stands for Royal Ambassadors and is a Southern Baptist missions education organization for boys in first through sixth grades.
Challengers is the same type of organization, just for older boys in seventh through 12th grades.
The camp provided a time for the boys to participate in a variety of outdoor activities including swimming, canoeing, fishing, shooting rifles, archery, paintballing and zip lining.
The boys also learned how to build a fire and administer first aid in the event of an emergency. And for a craft with a spiritual lesson, they built small thrones out of broken-down clothespins. The idea was to create something visual the boys could have at home to look at daily and ask themselves, "Who is on my throne?"
On three of the days, missionaries came to speak about their work. The evening activities included worship time through song and a message provided by Camp Pastor Bill Holmes.
“The main goal is, of course, to share the good news of Jesus Christ - which we’ve had nine salvations this week - and beyond that to grow in Christ,” RA Camp Director Nicholas Waggoner said.
This year’s camp theme was “Victory in Jesus,” with the intent to try to lead boys to be victorious in their lives and use principles taught by Jesus and the Bible.
By having sophomore, junior and senior high school students serve as junior counselors, the camp directors aimed to create an environment where the older boys were a positive influence and support to the younger boys. The same held true for the adult leaders, who could be role models and resources for the junior counselors, Waggoner said.
The Smith Baptist Men have been taking RAs out to Timberline Baptist Camp for more than 25 years, Waggoner said.
Two state staff members Zach Colburn and James Hilton with the Texas Baptist Men provide onsite support, leading camp crafts, performing skits and serving in whatever ways needed.
Smith Baptist Men’s Association Director Jeff Palmer and Smith Baptist Men’s Board RAs Treasurer C.H. Ford also provided leadership.
Waggoner said another key for the camp is to let boys know that in choosing to follow Christ, they are not saying goodbye to fun. They want them to know a person can have fun and love the Lord.