The Heartbeat of Camp

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This year, over 100 current collegiate athletes dedicated a week of their summer to serving as a huddle leader for FCA Total Athlete Camp. As a huddle leader, they were part coach, part friend, part mentor, and part pastor to a group of 8-10 high school athletes. They lived in the dorms with their campers, connected with them at meals, coached them at practice, led them through morning devotionals, worshiped with them during evening program, and guided discussion groups following the program.

During huddle leader training, we consistently, repeatedly, excessively remind the huddle leaders, “YOU are the heartbeat of camp” because of the incredible influence they have in the lives of their campers. The huddle leaders have the opportunity to serve as a tangible example of God’s love and goodness in the lives of young student athletes. They are able to affirm the identity and calling of their campers and encourage them in their relationship with God. Read the testimonies of three huddle leaders who have seen God work in and through them while serving at camp!

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Heather Madrigal, Basketball at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo

This is my 3rd year being a huddle leader a FCA Total Athlete Camp. I always feel like I receive more than I give away. Yes, I give up a week of my life where I have to take off time focusing on school, working, and training for my next season. To some this may seem like a huge sacrifice. But although it is a sacrifice, it is a bigger reward. To know that I am giving the talent that the Lord has given me to further his kingdom and show his love to students makes it all worth it. Who am I, that he would choose me to help be the hands and feet to love and mentor his kids? I consider it a huge privilege to be given the honor to love and lead them. In Acts 20:35 it is written, “In all things I gave you an example, that so laboring ye ought to help the weak, and to remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that he himself said, It is more blessed to give than to receive.” I believe that the kids learn and are blessed by the camp, but I also believe that as camp staff we receive just as much blessing and and deeper understanding of God’s love for us. Four out of eight girls in my huddle gave their lives to Jesus, and the other four recommitted their lives. There are too many moments to be able to give an accurate account of how much God’s love impacted the campers at camp this year. It was an amazing year at camp! I look forward to working the camp next summer. All honor and glory give to him!

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Cassie Bird, Track at Point Loma Nazarene University

God worked in amazing ways in my huddle. I had some girls who had been raised in a Christian home but had really been feeling distant from God lately, like they never really knew what it meant to have a relationship with him, or had turned away from him completely because of tragic things that had happened in their lives. A few didn’t have a relationship at all. One of the girls opened up to me on the second night that she had lost her dad a few years ago, her brother had turned to drinking, and her mom had a new boyfriend and she just felt so alone. She said she wanted to feel God and worship like everyone else but felt nothing. We talked for a while and eventually went to bed. Nothing significant seemed to change on the third night, but then on the last night she started sobbing during worship and made a choice to follow Him. 7 of my 8 girls made commitments to follow Christ or rededicate their life to him and we had an incredible last huddle where everyone shared their story. We also wrote our insecurities and lies we’ve been told on a piece of paper and ripped them all up, and talked about what that decision to follow Christ and live for Him meant post-camp! Such an incredible experience and am so thankful to have been a part of it!

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Chrissy Baird, Basketball at UCLA

Going into this year I didn’t know if I was ready to lead anyone. I had a really hard year and emotionally I didn’t feel like I had the capacity to lead, so I came into camp really scared that I wouldn’t have the right things to say to my girls or if I shared any piece of my story they would see me as weak and ill-equipped to lead them to Jesus. On the third night I had the girls write down a lie the devil has put in their head and share it. It turns out two of the girls were really really struggling as a result of a sibling who tried to commit suicide this year. I was wrestling with the same thing and in that moment I saw God use my own brokenness and feelings of inadequacy to connect with those two girls unlike any way I have connected with anyone else. They understood me, and I understood exactly what they were feeling. In addition to those two, I felt like I could see a little piece of myself in every story my girls shared. That week, God taught me that he uses brokenness, inadequacy, pain and hurt to shine his light because I was able to look them all in the eye and tell them that even though I felt like I’m in the middle of a storm He was standing right next to me. God brought each of the girls to my group because in my brokenness I could connect to them on a really deep level. In addition to what I was able to teach the girls, they taught me that God equips the people He calls and I never have to feel inadequate in Him.

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