Local kids got a taste of Kanakuk Camps this past week at KampOut!, a traveling day camp hosted at First Baptist Church in Bolivar.
The Kampers spent their week doing Bible studies, having worship services, spending small-group time with counselors and participating in outdoor activities, including a climbing wall, inflatables, waterslides, ziplines and more.
KampOut!, established in 2012, is a national traveling day camp. So far, the KampOut! crews have visited Texas, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Illinois and Arkansas this summer.
“Everything we do here is focused on either faith, fun or family. Whether that’s activities with other kids, building relationships with other kids, spending time in Bible study or spending time on really cool activities,” site director Michael Sloan said.
Sloan’s wife, Lindsey, is also a site director at KampOut, and they manage a crew of 28 paid staff members.
“We want to plug people in (to the church), so camp doesn’t have to end in the summer. It can go all year round if they’re plugged in with the church family,” she said.
Michael said that KampOut! is a great way for Kanakuk to branch out of its headquarters and impact people across the nation.
“We aren’t just in the gates of our camp back in Branson,” he said. “We get to step out and take what we do on the road and do it with kids who are either too far from the area or just don’t have opportunities to do it.”
With a capacity to host 200 kids, and with five KampOut! teams spread out across the country, the day camp can entertain up to 1,000 kids at one time.
Lindsey said KampOut! came to Bolivar through word-of-mouth and connections to Kanakuk in Branson.
“They want to bring the fun and excitement of overnight to their church and their community,” Michael added. “So it’s not just the big toys that we bring. It’s really the staff that is the big Kanakuk experience that we get to bring.”
Michael said at KampOut!, kids not only learn about Christianity, but they learn important social skills and make friends along the way.
“I think one of the greatest takeaways from the week is that kids get to learn how to connect with one another,” he said. “We send them down water slides together, rock walls together, they’re in Bible studies together. So they build a better relationship with their peers while also building a relationship with Jesus.
“If every kid left with those two things, it’d be a very good week.”
Lindsey added that KampOut! strives to encourage kids and teach them about overcoming obstacles.
“We want to breathe confidence into them. We want to help them conquer their fears and do hard things, and then make friends in the process,” she said.
Michael and Lindsey met at Kanakuk and have been working with the organization for 10 and seven years, respectively.
“Back (when I started), it was just a summer job,” Michael said. “It was what my friends were doing. Ever since then, I’ve gotten a little more involved every year, up to the point where we’re now directing a team at the church.”
Lindsey had a similar experience.
“It’s the best summer job ever. It’s so much fun, and I’ve made the greatest friends at camp,” she said. “I grew up going to camp, and so there’s just something special about it. Now, we can’t say no!”
For more information about Kanakuk Kamps, call 266-3000, or visit kanakuk.com.