Looking Back – Our First Florida Camp

Looking Back – Our First Florida Camp

By Kyle Lipke

   The chilly morning breeze died off on May 7th as the rising Florida sun cast its rays upon Skeeter Ranch in the town of Jasper. Kids and their families began to flow in from registration, newly fitted with Mission archery hats and Kicking Bear t-shirts. Hundreds were towed in on horse-drawn buggies, thrilled to kick start an incredible day of fun and just the second Kicking Bear camp of the 2016 season. From archery to bouncy house, pig chase to Monster truck, and everything in between, the stage was set for a Saturday of excitement, free of charge, which would get kids outdoors and allow the mission of Kicking Bear to be completed.

The events of the day were set up into stations from which kids could wander to and from, allowing them to experience each activity on their own time. At the 3d archery, BB gun, and tomahawk throwing courses, instructors would work one-on-one with the kids as they came through, showing and encouraging them correct form and technique. Being some of the most favored activities, kids came to these courses multiple times, trying to best their previous attempts or outdo their friends. Two bouncy houses were set up, providing kids the chance to let loose more energy while their parents eyed several old tractors that were brought in for display.

While waiting for their hand at the pig chase (kids would run after piglets in a small pen in an effort to catch them by the legs and put them in a cage), they tried their hand at football toss and human foosball. A monster truck was also in sight and kids not only had the opportunity to look at it and crawl inside, but they even got to go for rides in it! Face painting was also done and a coloring competition was held for the younger ones who were interested.

The morning was not relenting in fun and quickly it was time to dig into some great Southern barbeque sandwiches for lunch. But first, a group of teens presented some music skits for the kids and a couple of the teens stood up to give their personal Christian testimony. Ray Howell then gave his own testimony and the kids and their families were presented with the gospel of Jesus Christ, some for the first time.

Pastor Scott Yirka explained one’s need for a Savior, the eternal salvation that is offered through the death and resurrection of Christ, and what it means to become a follower of Jesus. Dozens of kids and several adults went forward, seeking to give their lives over to God. It was awesome!

Archery was so popular that it was reopened for another hour as kids continued to enjoy flinging arrows with Mission and Mini Genesis bows at 3D deer targets. Afterward, all the kids were gathered together to participate in field games including wheelbarrow races, crab crawls, piggyback rides, and tug of war. A police demonstration was then given on the use of dogs for detecting illegal drugs. Finally, to cap off the day, kids were gathered under a shade tree while Ray talked to them about the safety of handling marshmallows. Parents then came from behind, ripping open bags of marshmallows and throwing them at the kids. The infamous fight began and forty minutes of all-out fun ensued.

The high afternoon sun now beat upon the ranch as kids filed out the way they came, in horse-drawn wagons. The fun had subsided and the events were over, but not without the day meeting a wonderful success. Many kids spent the day learning, playing, and enjoying the outdoors. They got to experience activities such as shooting a bow, riding a monster truck, and pelting people with marshmallows, things they would not have the chance to do elsewhere.

Hoots and hollers of excitement were shouted all day as kids spent time having fun outdoors where they were away from the cell phones, video games, and the struggles of everyday life.

Even more importantly, the message of Jesus Christ was shared with these kids. That is the mission of Kicking Bear, get kids outdoors and introduce them to the Lord. That mission was completed at Skeeter Ranch and will continue to be completed throughout the nation as the Lord works His perfect will through the ministry of Kicking Bear.

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.

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