Almost 800 coaches and high school football players hit the muddy, soggy fields of Georgia Southern University’s campus for six days of intense training, both physical and spiritual.
The seventh annual Fellowship of Christian Athletes Football Camp welcomed teams from all over Georgia, as far north as Jasper County and south as Brantley County, during the recent camp.
On eight fields, sporting uniforms of all colors (though many were unrecognizable through the mud and muck), young men of all sizes and shapes held offensive and defensive drills, ran passing schemes and routes, and encouraged each other with high-fives and chest-bumps.
“One of the draws of the camp is that we force the guys to work hard,” said Boyd Green, the camp director and area FCA director. “The coaches appreciate that we do that and not them.”
Then, with a smile, Green added, “They’ll do it later.”
“We give them what they do with their own team, plus competition and the FCA side of it: team-building and worship,” he said.
The players lodge at GSU’s Eagle Village and eat meals on campus. Each morning and evening of the camp, participants take part in worship, with team-building opportunities led by FCA staff in the evening. Teams have the opportunity for three to four games per day of camp.
“Statistically speaking, 75 percent of the guys are unchurched,” Green said. “However, this is one of the strongest spiritual groups we’ve had so far. A little over 150 guys came forward to commit or recommit their lives to Christ during worship. And when the camp pastor asked for prayers for these guys, about 200 stood up in support of their teammates.”
With a camp theme of “All In,” Pastors Ken Watson and Frank Reynoso and worship leader Marvin Mumford encouraged the boys to be “all-in” athletes and believers and to heed Colossians 3:17: “And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus.”
“Our theme changes each year, but the camp motto stays the same: ‘A time for perspiration and inspiration,’ ” Green said.
This year’s camp was at capacity, with teams on a waiting list. The current plans for next year include three camps at Georgia Southern.
“The RAC and housing staff have been phenomenal to make this happen,” Green said. “And we couldn’t have done this without FCA staff from across Georgia and local FCA volunteer teens who helped with competition and worship.”
With coaches calling plays and FCA staff assisting, players gave their best at each game, working their way through a predetermined bracket.
“We take the competition out,” Green said. “We just encourage them to be what God’s called them to be — the athletes He wants them to be.”
As if on cue, exhausted, muddy players began to file past Green, who smiled and said, “One more game.”
“Ready,” a player responded enthusiastically.