This past June and July, SHEPHERD’SGROVE sponsored two soccer camps for kids ages 6-14 in the cities of Orange and Irvine. Kids from many different communities joined together in a safe and fun environment to build relationships, develop soccer skills, and learn about Jesus. So, this wasn’t your typical soccer camp!
To help run the camp, our church partnered with the Southern California Sea Horses, a semi-pro soccer team and Division of Missionary Athletes International (MAI), whose mission is seeing lives transformed by sharing the message of Jesus Christ through soccer. Their Christian coaches provide high-quality soccer instruction, a positive and loving environment, and an opportunity to hear about and put their faith in Jesus Christ.
We also recruited many high-school-aged volunteers from local schools. These volunteers played a crucial role in building relationships with the campers. This was our second year of hosting soccer camps but the first time we expanded beyond Irvine. Each camp had about twenty kids with almost 100% showing up daily. By the second day, you could see kids and volunteers really bonding. Through our partnership with the County of Orange Social Services, we had the opportunity to host kids from the Foster Care community as well. We fed everyone lunch and snacks, and on the last day we had lots of water games…where just about everyone (especially the volunteers) was soaked. All kids had an opportunity to just be kids—to have fun and feel loved.
Camp also impacted our student volunteers. They are all good soccer players, but each understood that the mission wasn’t about soccer but about building relationships with the kids. Both coaches and volunteers focused on trying to show unconditional love to each camper.
God was glorified every day of camp! We had an opportunity throughout the week to talk about Jesus, but also try to be like Jesus in both word and action. All the coaches and volunteers were the ‘church in action’, we were ‘being the church’. I truly believe that Jesus was pleased with us.
Although the camp just ended, we’re already thinking about next year. With more time to plan, God only knows how many other kids we can reach. If you are interested in learning more about how to get involved with the Foster care community, reach out to Curtis or stop by the Outreach table. It would be great to have more volunteers from SHEPHERD’SGROVE involved!