Baylor Rec Team's 'Youth Camp On Wheels' Hits The Road To Texas Church Camps

News Photo 433
Baylor Rec Team members - (L to R) Allison Gotcher, Alicia Spillman, Lance Autrey and Matt Poe.
July 15, 2002

by Jenifer Fergason, Student Newswriter

Hundreds of kids at church camps throughout Texas are jumping for joy this summer when they see a colorful van pull into the parking lot. The Baylor University Recreation Team has arrived and is ready to play.

The Baylor Rec Team is made up of three recent Baylor graduates and a soon-to-be Truett Seminary student, who have dedicated their summer to combining Bible studies with recreation and creating a fun environment for their campers. The Rec Team is led by camp director Lance Autrey, a 2002 Baylor graduate from Gatesville, and recreational director Alicia Spillman, a 2002 Baylor graduate from Double Oak, along with Allison Gotcher, a 2002 Baylor graduate from Dallas, and Matt Poe, a 2001 Hardin-Simmons University graduate who will begin studies at Truett in the fall.

The Rec Team program is like a "youth camp on wheels" that sets out to interact with churches and provide recreational activities for their camps, said Don Mattingly, Baylor's coordinator of youth programs and creator of the Rec Team. The team's mission is to aid church camps, which some churches have to plan on their own, Mattingly said.

"The main goal of the Rec Team is to help youth ministers run the camp and allow kids to see Baylor students in a positive light," he said.

The Rec Team is on the road this summer, leading six weeks of camps outside of Waco, in addition to the two weeks they worked on campus at the BaylorYou youth camps. In all, the Baylor team will work with more than 75 churches and 3,000 youth and children.

The Rec Van no doubt brings excitement to a church youth camp. It's loaded with recreational equipment, and it's also hard to miss because of its brightly colored exterior. The bold colors of Baylor green and gold surround each side of the Baylor Bear logo, which is located directly in the middle of the van. The bear and the word, Rec, quickly grab attention so that kids can easily recognize the Baylor Rec Team.

The agenda for each camp is developed when team members meet with the youth minister or camp director and gather information regarding facilities, age groups, and the total number of kids. Then, the Rec Team organizes the appropriate activities.

"We try to throw a twist in activities, so it is not only the athletes who want to play," Spillman said. "We want every kid to participate and have fun."

Getting kids involved and well-acquainted with one another is the aim of such Rec Team games as water relays, synchronized swimming contests, and "hoppity hop" relays on heavy-duty rubber balloons. The teams for recreation match the Bible study groups in order for kids to bond more and work together as a team.

"No one wants a recreational team to just play football or ping pong, but instead they want new, exciting team-building games," Autrey said.

For example, "Bruce the Moose" is a crazy team game played in the gym. The object of the game is to try to put rings around the moose's antlers with a hook handle. The crazy part is that the mechanical moose is dancing and constantly in motion, which makes it a challenge to get the ring on an antler without it bouncing off. The team with the most rings successfully placed at the end of the time period wins.

The university's first Rec Team began with the idea to help churches with their camp experience and to plant seeds in kids about maybe one day attending Baylor. Mattingly said that Rec Teams give Baylor students an opportunity for ministry in church recreation and camping.

"We want the young people to get to meet current Baylor students, who are growing Christians and sharp, young adults," Mattingly said.

The Rec Team will be on the road in July at church camps throughout Texas.

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