Three teen Pathfinders from Pleasant Valley Church (PVC) in Happy Valley, Ore., took their vision for using a free sports camp as a way to reach their community for Christ and brought it to reality June 21–23, 2017.
About 25 kids attended the camp, which combined drills and playtime in soccer, basketball and field games with worship talks, praise music and snacks.
Mentors of the PVC Teen Leadership Training (TLT) program are entirely convinced that if teens want to reach others with Christ’s love, they should have every opportunity.
That’s why Aileen Stanley, PVC Pathfinder co-director, and Michel Fullard-Leo, PVC Pathfinder staff and mentor, didn’t say “no” when approached by Timothy Fullard-Leo, Zachary Nakamura and Caeden Rogers, who had to plan an outreach activity as part of their TLT requirements.
The TLT program is designed to challenge and empower teen Pathfinders with new and increased responsibilities, although Stanley admits these teens took on a much bigger project than most. “Simpler is the norm, but I really try to get them to think outside the box,” she says.
Knowing they would need a location and funding, Timothy Fullard-Leo reached out to Gene Heinrich, then his pastor at Rockwood Church in Portland, as well as the Portland Adventist Elementary School (PAES) athletic director, Jonathan Kemper. Both Heinrich and Kemper loved the idea of an evangelistic sports camp and helped the boys gain board approval from both the church and school.
PAES offered the use of their facility and equipment for free. Rockwood Church covered the expenses of the sports camp through a North Pacific Union Conference Give Them the Keys grant for youth-led evangelism.
The three teens contacted their fellow Pleasant Valley Pathfinders and TLTs, youth from Rockwood Church, and friends from Portland Adventist Academy to staff the sports camp. In the end almost 30 Portland-area teens led and staffed the entire event — planning the schedule, advertising the event, creating a budget, registering campers, planning and coaching games and drills, leading worship and music, planning and preparing the snacks, and debriefing each day.
Michel Fullard-Leo says the sports camp reminds her of 1 Tim. 4:12: “Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity.”
“The youth took a monumental idea that many people would have told them that they could not accomplish and turned it into a very successful and fun three-day outreach event for the community,” she says. “Our youth can do great things when they are motivated, empowered and encouraged.”