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August/September 2008 Susie Magill


S
o, you served as a Huddle Leader at FCA Camp this summer. You had an amazing, life-changing experience, didn’t you? You spent your days soaking up God’s Word, pouring into your campers, competing for Christ and building meaningful relationships.

But now reality has set in. You battle FCA Camp withdrawal. You miss your fellow Huddle Leaders who, by the end of the week, had become your second family. You long for the constant fellowship with other believers who thought, spoke and acted like you—the people who experienced God the same way you did. But as you return to the real world, your life is again crammed with things like classes, jobs, homework and sports. If only you could have one more day back at camp—back where you felt God’s presence constantly. “Wouldn’t it be nice to live that way,” you think, “to have my whole life scheduled around spiritual growth?”


 
But that’s not reality. The reality is that it’s up to you now. You are the one responsible for planning out your daily routine. You are responsible for scheduling time for Christ. You are responsible for seeking out Christian fellowship.

Even though walking out your faith was easier at camp, where it was literally your job, there is no excuse for not living the same way now.

“We have to choose to live in the reality that certain things that are true at camp—that are true on the mountain top—are still true when we go back home, even if we don’t feel them,” said Kansas City FCA’s Karla Jordan, who regularly serves as a Huddle Leader Coordinator for area FCA Camps.
 
When they return to real life, Huddle Leaders must choose whether or not they will become the mature Christians they are called to be and take a stand on the battlefield for Christ.

So, what about you? Are you willing to accept the challenge and suit up? If so, let us help you get—and stay—focused!

*****

There’s a good chance that when you first signed up for camp, you didn’t realize that God would work in you as much as He did. You probably thought you were going there just to serve the campers—which you did—but maybe you didn’t realize that God had called you there to speak to you, too.

Looking back, you see that this was no accident. You were hand-picked by the Lord to minister at FCA Camp in the summer of 2008. As Philippians 2:13 (NIV) reminds us, “…it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.” No doubt, it was through the connections you made with your peers, leaders and campers that He worked His “good” in and through you. But the fact that camp has come and gone doesn’t mean that you are done being used by God.
 
Yes, you’ve removed your lanyard and neon green camp t-shirt, but your position as a Huddle Leader hasn’t ended. You have new responsibilities, now—ones that shouldn’t be taken lightly.

In those few short days of FCA Camp, God gave you insight into the lives of your campers. You became familiar with their fears, their dreams and their struggles. You may even have talked about the temptations they would face when returning to school. And with this new knowledge comes the opportunity to be used by the Holy Spirit to speak encouragement into your campers.

FCA Camp isn’t meant to be an isolated week-long experience. It is designed to be a springboard that will launch those who attend into a new spiritual level. And as a Huddle Leader, you are called to be a part of that experience with your campers.

“One of the most effective ways for an FCA Camper to bear a lot of fruit is for camp to be the start of long-term relationships,” said Jordan, who currently serves as the Kansas City FCA marketing coordinator. “As Huddle Leaders, you get a glimpse of your campers’ hearts and how lonely they can be. Society isn’t providing a lot of good role models or people who will engage them on a spiritual level.”

This is where you have the opportunity to step in and be a voice of righteousness and spiritual discernment. We all remember how hard life was in high school and junior high. Uncertainty and insecurity are virtually unavoidable. But when you invest in your campers’ lives, you can shed light and hope on even their darkest of days.

Take former Mid-Missouri Leadership Camp Huddle Leaders Amanda Hantouli and Megan Wilson for example. Both strongly believe in the importance of maintaining camp relationships, even across states and ZIP codes.
 
“It’s important to keep in touch with your campers because, as long as you keep in touch, you keep influencing,” said Hantouli,a University of Missouri volleyball player, who, alongside Wilson, plays front row for the Tigers. “Just staying in touch will remind them of the things that were talked about during the summer.”

Even as Division I athletes, Hantouli and Wilson make time to communicate with their girls. Whether through Facebook, emails, text messages or simple availability, their time has made all the difference.

Post-Camp Tips for
Huddle Leaders

Pray, Pray, Pray
Pray that your campers continue to grow in Christ, find their identity in Him, have the courage to stand up for their faith and invite more classmates to FCA.

Become a Pen Pal
Write letters to your campers and fellow Huddle Leaders, not just e-mails and Facebook messages.

Pay Attention
Make note of your campers’ interests and struggles and follow up with them accordingly.
Fire Up the Grill
Ask your campers tough questions about dating relationships, parents, school and time with God.
Open Your Ears
Be willing to listen when talking to campers; don’t just spout off advice.
Don’t Give Up
Be willing to initiate post-camp relationships with campers, even if they don’t respond right away.

Strike While the Iron Is Hot
Follow up within the first months of school, when temptations are the strongest.

Word of Encouragement
Use Scripture to encourage them. Text them random verses every once in awhile.

Set the Bar
Be a good example through what you say, what you do and where you allow yourself to be seen. Seek the accountability of other Huddle Leaders on this.

“A little sentence or paragraph on Facebook can keep an ongoing conversation,” Wilson explained. “I am able to ask what is going on and tell them what I think about certain issues. This encourages them, and it encourages me.”

Prayer, according to Wilson, is another way you can help your campers stay focused. Even as much as you might want to, you won’t always be available to your campers, but God is. He is the only One who can truly heal their hurts, and it is through His Scripture that they can find truth and answers to life’s questions. That is Wilson’s prayer for her girls: “That God would be their Father and security. That He would be the One they go to and talk with no matter what.”

*****

There is a popular belief today that people are better off isolated—that everyone would be better off living life alone. But this doesn’t reflect Scripture, which clearly shows that we are created to find strength in Christ through community and fellowship.

Throughout Scripture, God provides us with examples of such community, one of which lies in the Old Testament. In the book of Exodus, we read about the tribe of Israel and its journey out of Egypt into the Promised Land. The people spent every moment together traveling, camping, eating and encountering God’s truth. Basically, they did life together, and so should we.
 
FCA Camp serves to establish a godly community, not only between Huddle Leaders and campers, but also among the team of Huddle Leaders themselves.

“There is a lot to be said for a relationship with someone who is in your same peer group and stage of life,” Jordan said. “You are able to remind each other of the example that you should be setting and the things that you proclaimed to be important during the week of camp. They can help you live up to what you have spoken.”

Wilson, who has experienced significant spiritual growth in her life due to her accountability relationship with Hantouli, agreed.

“I really encourage Huddle Leaders to stay in touch with one another,” she said. “The bond I have with Amanda is like having someone who can slap me in the face and say, ‘Hey, Megan, is this really what you should be doing right now?’ We both make mistakes, but having someone I can talk to about those daily temptations is huge.”

But even if you don’t live in close proximity to any of your fellow Huddle Leaders, you can still maintain this level of accountability. Start by picking up the phone, typing an e-mail or “friending” your fellow Huddle Leaders on Facebook. Physical distance isn’t an excuse anymore, not in this high-tech age. Accountability is at your fingertips any time of day. It is simply up to you to use it.


This will require you to step out of your comfort zone and initiate conversations, but that’s what God beckons us to do. His Scripture calls us, multiple times, into accountability with other believers. In Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 (NIV), Solomon declares that “two are better one,”and that “a cord of three strands is not quickly broken.” As Christians, we are in this together. And through our reliance on one another, our actions, attitudes and behaviors communicate more of His truth every day.

So, Huddle Leaders, be encouraged! You can keep that fire alive. You can advance to the next level spiritually and bring others along. Choose to lay down your life, your agenda and desires and open yourself to new and exciting relationships through the leading of the Holy Spirit. You got focused this summer. Now, do everything you can to stay that way. 

--For more stories about faith and sport, visit www.sharingthevictory.com, the official magazine of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. To subscribe to STV, click here.

Photos courtesy of Chip Van Zandt, Marko Hahn and Kristin Humphrey.


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