• September 20, 2014

Fitness & faith

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Posted: Saturday, June 15, 2013 4:30 am

More than 200 children learned about sports, cooking and praying at the WinShape Camp for Communities hosted this week by the First United Methodist Church of Killeen.

The camp’s theme, “Heart,” was based on Proverbs 4:23: “Above all else guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.”

WinShape is a nonprofit summer camp that operates in 72 cities throughout the country, said Bryant Malone, camp director.

“We partner with churches in the community and the Chick-fil-A and put on a camp for first- through sixth-graders,” he said. “It includes skills and small group Bible studies and large group worship environments.”

The idea started in 27 cities about six years ago when the founders wanted to help churches connect with their communities, Malone said.

“Using the leverage of a Chick-fil-A that sees more people than probably most churches do in a week will probably be able to bring more people in and connect with the families and give an opportunity to learn together.”

Nearly 50 FUMC volunteers and about 20 WinShape staff members led the weeklong camp in Killeen.

Debra Longley, director of children’s ministries, learned about event planning and church camps at a children’s conference she attended several years ago. She brought what she learned back to Killeen, and the church favored hosting a sports camp for the community. The camp hosted about 100 children its first year.

“I had no idea how wonderful the camp was going to be and we just took a risk,” she said. “The feedback was that (the kids) have never seen something like this before.”

As campers participate in several activities including basketball, archery, painting and crafts, they also learn to guard against evil, Longley said.

“This is the best opportunity for kids to come and know God and to learn how to love people and serve their neighbors.”

The week ended with campers showing off skills they learned throughout the week by competing in tournaments and spending the day with family members.

Malone said his team is scheduled to host a camp in nine cities this summer, with their next stop in Georgetown.

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