Spiritual Boot Camp 2011

            We recently experienced one of the most exciting activities of the year for our youth ministry, Spiritual Boot camp 2011!!!  It was both exhilarating and exhausting.  420 teenagers and leaders/pastors from around Kansas and Oklahoma descended upon our little town and rallied their hearts out before receiving a great Bible message from a special man of God. 
            But first, here’s a little history on Spiritual Boot camp.  When 2nd Man and I first came to this church back in 1998 we were told that our group usually went to Wichita to stay in a hotel between Christmas and New Years and have a bit of a winter retreat.  When 2nd Man heard that he would be expected to continue this he came up with an idea to expand the vision for this retreat.  He decided to open it up to other youth groups as well and gave it a theme of Spiritual Boot camp.  Our first year was a blast and people really got into it.  There were approximately 120 people who attended that first year. 
The second year was even bigger and better.  However, it began to get complicated.  I remember one night 2ndMan and I literally spent the entire night at the church until 5 am the next day working on the details (we weren’t very good delegaters back then).  Our bus with supplies broke down on the highway on the day of the retreat and we had to really get creative with the whole retreat.  Then there was the incident of one of the outside activities.  It was a local hockey game.  I’ve been to hockey games before, but this was crazy.  There were bloody fights breaking out every couple minutes and the music and foul language was rampant even from the loud speakers!  2nd Man watched in horror as groups (including our own) had to take their kids back to the hotel early that night.  Not the greatest moment in youth ministry right there.
2nd Man preparing for arrival of troops
            After that year the hotel we used shut down and we made the decision to move the retreat to Tulsa.  We have other churches that we affiliate with down there and that became a helpful jumping off point to getting a lay of the land and what outside activities we could do there as well as a host of better hotels (no offense Wichita).  From there on the retreat began to grow larger every year.  But there was still the issue of having to drive 1-½ hours to our hosting sight and all of the organization and money that included.  Every year our church had to foot a pretty hefty bill that wasn’t covered by the registration of the teenagers. So finally, in 2005 we handed the whole retreat over to a church that was already located in Tulsa and could better handle the logistics.  It had grown into such a popular event that we didn’t want to stop it altogether.  After some staffing changes at that church, the event finally was cancelled for a couple of years. Now, it’s back on, but with a whole different theme and venue. 
            So, I say all that to say that two years ago 2nd Man got the great idea to bring back Spiritual Boot camp, but house it in our new building and change it into a one day rally event.  Last year, our first year back, we had about 380 and grew to 420+ this year.  It is one of my favorite events to watch 2ndMan in action.  It’s one of those times when you’re doing the Lords work for a multitude including your own teens. 
            This year’s sub theme was Beachhead, which quite frankly was totally a foreign concept to me, until he explained to me what a beachhead is.  Apparently, in WWII it was more widely known.  These were forts on the beach (duh) that were set to attack enemy forces coming from the ocean or sea.  Specifically, we think of it during D-Day when our army attacked Normandy.  They conquered the beachhead and used it as a starting point of operations to move further inland.  This is what God would have us to do with Satan and his deceived troops.  Not just conquer the beachhead, but use it as a jumping off point to move further on the offensive to expand the victories for the Lord. 
            I wish I could really show you how exciting the whole thing was.  2nd Man has a standard of excellence like no other.  Sometimes that can be challenging to work under, but he is a gracious perfectionist.  I ended up in charge of rallying the decorating troops.  It was our mission to turn the front of the sanctuary into a beachhead fort; also, to turn the foyer into an HQ of sorts for arriving youth groups.  It took days and a team of helpers to do it, but it was so cool looking when all was said and done. 
The Beach Head
            One of the many challenges was filling the military sandbags.  Obviously sand would have been both heavy and expensive.  So we tried a few different options and settled on using hay.  I asked a man in our church if he had any I could use and he suggested I go down into a ravine on our church property where he dumped some while swathing our land.  (Swathing is a new word I’ve recently learned.  It’s when you see the farmers taking the grasses and rolling them into those huge round bales of hay you see out in the fields).  Anyway he had a bale that went wrong so he just dumped it in the ravine.  This was a challenge for me.  Out here in OK we have these things I’m scared of called snakes and spiders.  I prayed up, loaded my kids and dogs up and drove the ole trailblazer off road to the ravine. Thankfully, we didn’t encounter any of the aforementioned creatures.  We stuffed and stuffed and stuffed, but I still had to send some teens out to finish the job on decorating day.  The plan worked perfectly until Jose, our song leader, came to me on the day of the rally with swollen red eyes from grass allergies! Um…oops.
Foyer HQ
            Decorating day was one full of stress and…well…more stress.  None of my projects  were working according to the plan A.  EVERYTHING had to go to at least plan B and then some even further down the alphabet.  It was a long 12 hour day, but overall very successful.  I know the pictures really don’t do the room justice, but it really did look neat.  The large Wolverines and Cobras signs on the walls are actually about 8’X16’.  Though they aren’t great works of art, they did the job of covering banners that our church has hanging up there.  May I just say painting on that large of a surface is not an easy task especially when you’re 5’2”. 
            We invited some college guys from Heartland Baptist Bible College to be our rally yell leaders.  The churches were separated into two groups and did fun challenging games.  Whatever side won, 2nd man would pull from their tickets and give out prizes like an I pod touch, a digital camera, gift cards and one youth department won a Play Station 3 for their group!  2nd Man’s motto is go big or go home.  After the rally we had special singing, great preaching and then out to the south lawn for inflatable games.  I wish I had taken pictures of the inflatables, one was over two stories high!  The inflatables are always a bit of a gamble because of weather.  And we did end up having a very heavy rainfall and storm that day…at 4:45pm.  What’s the significance of that you ask?  It was exactly 15 minutes after the whole even was over.  God’s so good!
the masses
more masses

masses from the back
2nd Man jr. ready for duty
            Now, we’ve been in recovery mode for the last couple of weeks until we gear up for next year.  But I’ll think about that…next year. 
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