By: Carson Mowery
For over sixty years, Heartland Camps has hosted thousands of campers who have come to experience God’s creation and grow their faith in its midst. Kids enjoy group worship and Bible studies, along with pool time, Gaga ball, and archery. Traditionally, we utilize these activities to engage with kids and shift their focus to their Creator. Over the years, the activities maintain the same name, but we constantly tweak and refine activities to ensure our mission is met.
Recently, the Heartland Camp 2019 Staff set out to renovate the archery targets for the campers. This project was rooted in the desire to redesign the child’s experience, and it ended with redesigning the target itself. “Archery is important here because common experiences are the basis for all friendships,” Jared Briscoe explains. “At camp, that means trying new things, building skills while having fun, and being outside in God’s creation. The new design of the range will make it a more exciting and joyful place to explore and build friendships.” This target serves as more than just the subject of eager kids with flying arrows; it offers opportunities for campers to truly succeed within an activity, even if they are initially uncomfortable with the idea.
The thirty-foot span of the target allows each child to hit the target every time, with the various images offering a range of difficulty. Even if a child misses one of the images on the target, the simple act of making contact with the target will build the child’s confidence and encourage him or her to return to the activity and strive to improve. Their progression of achievement nurtures their growth, which mirrors what we strive to do here at Heartland in every activity. It also allows campers to grow while learning from and interacting with their counselors, whose job it is to encourage their growth and cheer for their successes.
Here at Heartland, we are devoted to creating belonging for every child that comes to camp, and this archery target is one of many ways we have set out to achieve that. We know when kids feel they belong, they’ll be more engaged with their fellow campers and counselors. Belonging also empowers kids to recognize God’s presence and fully rejoice in the love of Christ during their time at camp.
God is clear about the importance of belonging and including people within a community. In 1 Corinthians 12:12-20, we are told,
“For just as the body is one and has many parts, and all the parts of that body, though many, are one body-- so also is Christ. For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body-- whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free-- and we were all given one Spirit to drink. Indeed, the body is not one part but many. If the foot should say, ‘Because I’m not a hand, I don’t belong to the body,’ it is not for that reason any less a part of the body. And if the ear should say, ‘Because I’m not an eye, I don’t belong to the body,’ it is not for that reason any less a part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would the hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? But as it is, God has arranged each one of the parts in the body just as He wanted. And if they were all the same part, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, but one body.”
In using God’s word, we are able to recognize the importance of belonging while maintaining individuality. Each kiddo is gifted in their own way, but we want to encourage them to step beyond their comfort zones and grow and develop new strengths. This allows there to truly be unity yet diversity in the body of Christ. So, whether it is through riding horses, taking the Leap of Faith on the challenge course, or striking the archery targets, our staff adheres to God’s mentality of working in the details. We hope your child will join us this summer at our new archery target and this beautiful faith experience called camp!