By: Joshua Danker-Dake | Category: Education | Issue: May 2010
Ronnie and Jennifer Hayes, founders of Camp Courage USA.
Camp Courage USA is an independent Christian summer adventure camp in Mannford, Oklahoma for boys and girls ages 8 through 14. This camp offers kids one-on-one attention and opportunities for fun and personal growth. This year’s camp event is July 11-16.
Camp Courage USA is run by founders Ronnie and Jennifer Hayes. “We live for this,” says Jennifer. “We love seeing kids’ faces and excitement, and also to see their lives change. We want to introduce kids to Christ, but we also want to help them live their lives with faith and courage. And so many of them have been so enthusiastic to come back.”
This is a relationship-based camp, with leader-to-camper ratios of one to six or less. Camp Courage USA recruits mature, Christian college students who can serve as role models. And these leaders care about kids. “Our leaders have been friendly, adaptable, and ready to serve and go above and beyond to help meet the needs of others,” says Jennifer. “They have a vested interest in those kids.”
“One of my passions has been to minister to the leaders as well as the kids,” says Ronnie. “We have a week dedicated to leadership training, and last year it went better than I could have imagined. Beyond practical things they need to learn, we also teach them how to minister to kids and they have opportunities to grow themselves. It’s very humbling for all of us. And it was incredibly successful.”
One of Camp Courage USA’s goals is to strengthen the family by working with campers regarding their own personal strengths and weaknesses and encouraging them to make good character-driven choices.
This year’s camp looks to be bigger and better than last year’s. “All our great activities from the past are still in place – the zip line, the wall, the ropes course – and new this year, we have skate ramps and a full-size halfpipe,” says Ronnie. This year’s camp will also feature a popular local Christian band The Beautiful Chaos.
This year’s theme is “Moment of Truth.” “We all have many decisions to make in life, big and small, the biggest of which is whether or not to follow Christ,” says Ronnie. “And we’ll deal with integrity questions and issues.”
Camp Courage USA will begin on a Sunday night with a welcome rally for parents. “This is a time to connect the kids with the leaders, and for the parents to meet the leaders and give their kids an extended send-off,” says Ronnie.
Camp Courage USA is completely volunteer-run. “Our people are so giving of their time,” says Jennifer. “Many of them use their vacation time to help us out.” Leaders for Camp Courage USA get volunteer hours through Volunteer Central. Camp Courage is also a participating "Give-a-Day Get-a-Day" Disney organization.
“Putting on Camp Courage USA is challenging, but it’s extremely rewarding,” says Ronnie. “We’re excited about moving forward and about what God is going to do this year.”
“The whole week is one big event,” says Jennifer. “It’s going to be a lot of fun.” This year’s camp is July 11-16. Right now, Camp Courage USA is signing up campers and leaders. For more information on Camp Courage USA, give them a call or visit them on the web at www.campcourageusa.com.
Camp Courage USA will feature popular local Christian band The Beautiful Chaos.