February in Florida!

Grace Church Melbourne  

Kicking Bear Adventure Camp 

By Kevin Bonnar  

On February 15th the Kicking Bear team headed down to Grace Church in Melbourne, FL for an awesome weekend!  Cal Ferguson from Texas and Tom Lee from Kansas joined up with Ray and Kevin to form the Kicking Bear team.  Cal, Tom and Kevin were returning to Melbourne after helping with Grace’s first camp last year.  After hosting their first camp last year, they have really embraced the three-year plan for new camps and are setting a great example for new camps to grow by.  This year they added their own Champions to help lead volunteers, were able to expand their campus to create an awesome archery range and also acquired their own bows, arrows and targets through Centershot Ministries.  It has been really awesome having Pastors Aaron and Nicole Olinski, along with the Grace Church family, embrace the plan and put it into action!  We were really excited to be back at Grace this year and we had big plans for the trip. The three goals for the weekend were to have the first Champion Training Camp, help with a Guy’s Night event and then have our adventure camp for kiddos on Saturday.   

On Thursday we gathered for our first Champion Training.  Tom and Sherilin Andersen who had recently returned to Florida from ministry work in Alaska joined us along with Dennis Pawlowski the founder of Trinity Sportsman Ministries from Plant City, Florida.  The training went great as participants learned about how Kicking Bear was founded and then launched into learning about all that goes into putting on a Kicking Bear camp.  It was nice to have Cal and Tom share many experiences from their camps and it added a very real world feel to the learning.  After the classroom portion we were able to then hit the campus of Grace Church and put our learning into action as we set up for Men’s Night and the Kid’s Adventure Camp!   

Friday Night was for the men at Grace and everything went great!  Over 100 men enjoyed a 3-D archery range, flu-flu arrow shooting, tomahawk throwing and even archery tag.  It was really cool to see men who had never held a bow or tomahawk in their hand get a chance to learn a new skill and have a lot of fun!  Many shouts of joy and surprise were heard from the archery tag course for sure! After spending time on the courses men were treated to a steak dinner and time for fellowship.  After dinner Dr. Matthew Burke, an Air Force veteran and founder of 10 Can, shared a powerful testimony for the men. He reminded us all to stick together and never be afraid to reach out for help or to support a brother in need.  Ray then shared the testimony of Kicking Bear and how the Lord has used the ministry over the last 24 years to change so many lives.  Pastor Aaron from Grace Church closed out the messages with a beautiful invitation for men to join together and a salvation call for all, what a powerful evening!  Special thanks to Dennis for bringing in his archery equipment, Matthew for sharing such a powerful testimony and Pastor Aaron for hosting and encouraging all the men! 

Saturday brought about the beautiful pre camp buzz that we had kind of missed over the winter months.  One thing that really was awesome was that Grace Church teamed up with First Baptist Melbourne to host the camp this year.  With this teamwork the two churches were able to provide more than 90 volunteers for camp, what a blessing!!  The churches really took the “bring your own kids and a kiddo from outside your home” theme of Kicking Bear to heart as families were given invitations to share with friends during the weeks leading up to camp. The church body stepped up and with over 150+ kiddos registered there was an excitement in the air for sure!  The kiddos and families started pouring in on a beautiful day and after gathering everyone for an opening prayer and safety meeting it was time for some fun!


Kiddos enjoyed archery, tomahawks, really awesome arts and crafts,  bb guns, archery tag, laser tag, a wide variety of games and even a potato launcher!  After a couple rotations for campers we all gathered for a snack and we shared a message.  God really put it on my heart to let kids know that the Bible was really written “for and about” each and every one of them.  So, we journeyed through the story of the Gospel with that in mind.  During the message one girl raised her hand and shared that she thought life was really all about “choices”.  I had to agree and that brought us to the most important choice any of us can make, declaring Jesus our Lord and Savior.  Many kiddos gave their heart to the Lord that afternoon and counselors were able to meet with them to discuss this awesome choice they had made and also to help guide them on next steps as a believer.  We celebrated by hitting the campus again for more fun! 

After another rotation for campers we gathered around as Officer Lightsey from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission brought an airboat and a real live gator!!  He did an amazing job encouraging kiddos to get outside and appreciate all that God’s beautiful creation has to offer.  We then gathered for a little tug of war and wouldn’t you know it, somebody started a marshmallow fight.  And oh boy were those marshmallows flying!  After a quick clean-up we all headed over to an amazing dinner provided by the hardworking volunteers.  With full bellies from the food and full hearts from the day we lit the fire and settled in for one more message to close out camp.  Using the multicolored Wordless Bow from Centershot Ministries, Dennis from Trinity Sportsman shared the Gospel message again to all encouraging those who had earlier in the day made that important choice to follow Jesus.  After he finished up, I asked for volunteers to close out with a prayer and one of the younger campers stepped right up, her prayer was such a beautiful way to end an amazing camp! 

Huge thank you to Grace Church and First Baptist Melbourne, what an awesome event and we are so blessed to be a part of it.  One family from Grace shared the impact of camp:  

Thank you to all the Kicking Bear team that came to make this possible and Grace Church for running this event again. Our kids looked forward to this since last year. It was really awesome because one of our sons brought a friend who has never been to church, or an event like this and has never had a chance to shoot a bow and arrow. Cal and Kevin made a huge impact along with many volunteers and he left with this being one of the best days ever!”–Matthew 

Kicking Bear is so very thankful for another great year of camps, hunts and mentorship, thank you Jesus!!

Kicking Bear Ministry has been taking youth off the streets and changing their lives for over 20 years God has allowed us to keep His camps and outings completely free-of-charge to all participants due to the great partners He has brought to the ministry. Under the direction of God Kicking Bear has changed the lives of thousands of kiddos and their families!  Thank you for your prayers, partnership and support.

We are able to continue to host free events to the public and change the lives of the ones who need us most because of the continued financial support of people like you. Please consider either a one-time, tax deductible, year-end gift or a monthly recurring donation by clicking the “Support Us” button.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Fill out this field
Fill out this field
Please enter a valid email address.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.