By: Joshua Danker-Dake | Category: Recreation/Leisure | Issue: May 2009
Jennifer and Ronnie Hayes, founders of Camp Courage USA, are excited about this summer’s upcoming camp sessions July 6-10 and 13-17.
Camp Courage USA is a nonprofit, interdenominational Christian summer camp in Mannford, Oklahoma for boys and girls between the ages of 8 and 14. This summer’s camp sessions are July 6 through 10 and July 13 through 17. Camp Courage USA offers each child extraordinary one-on-one attention and opportunities for personal growth and development.
Ronnie and Jennifer Hayes, the founders of Camp Courage USA, have done volunteer and vocational ministry for 17 years. Ronnie graduated from Rhema Bible Training Center in 1997, and was a youth pastor for 10 years. He has led various mission trips, outreaches and conferences. “His heart is for kids,” says Jennifer. “We always pictured ourselves working with children.”
“I’ve seen that camping ministry is effective,” says Ronnie. “Camp Courage USA is relationship-driven. We have very good leader-to-camper ratios. Our leaders are dedicated adults and mature, Christian college students who serve as quality role models.”
Camp is about having fun, but even more important is personal development. “Our vision with Camp Courage USA is to equip kids to be strong Christians who live out their faith,” says Ronnie. “It’s simple to become a Christian, but it’s much more difficult to live that faith out – to be bold, to walk with Christ. Our theme this year is ‘One Stand, One Summer.’ We want the kids to be proud of who they are and what they believe. And they need to be equipped for that – they need the tools.”
Activities at Camp Courage USA are centered on team-building and encouraging one another.
Camp can offer more personal, individually-tailored attention than the average child usually gets in a large group setting. “Twenty-four hours a day for five days, you have one counselor to six or eight kids. That’s a lot of hours to invest in each child.
“One of our goals with Camp Courage USA is to strengthen the family. What kids learn at camp and take home should make a difference. Ultimately, it’s the child’s choice, but a lot of kids go home more respectful, more obedient and more likeable. The parents notice. You see amazing changes for the better in some of these kids – changes that last.
“A great thing about camp is that it gets kids away from the influence of media – TV and video games – for a time. Kids have stress too. They come out, they’re able to think more clearly, and they’re more receptive to God. They get out of their comfort zone, and they build lasting relationships and camaraderie.
“Camp Courage USA is filled with a lot of action, a lot of fun, and great food. We even let the kids sleep in a little. We’ve got a lake with a zip line into it, a water trampoline, canoeing, wall-climbing, rappelling, a water slide, skateboarding, nature hikes, and a ropes course. Our group games and activities emphasize team-building, and the kids learn about their strengths and weaknesses. They learn to encourage each other. They investigate what it means to take a stand with these activities, and they learn skills to apply to their daily lives. All our activities have purpose. We want to build quality character traits in them.”
Camp Courage USA is an interdenominational, unaffiliated summer camp that welcomes kids of all faiths. Family discounts are available. “Our hearts are in this camp,” says Jennifer. “We want to see kids’ lives changed.” For more information on Camp Courage USA, call (918) 274-1521 or visit them on the web at www.campcourageusa.com.