July 29, 2002
|Houston Baptist University Rec Team members pose and play.
University recruiting teams are ambassadors of fun
___By Mark Wingfield
___Sending students packing may be the best advertising Texas Baptist universities have to offer in summertime.
___This summer, like many before, most of the eight universities affiliated with the Baptist General Convention of Texas not only sent students home for the summer or sent them away on summer mission trips. They also sent out select groups of students as special ambassadors and rec
|BAYLOR UNIVERSITY'S Rec Team (top) ncludes Lance Autrey, a 2002 Baylor graduate from Gatesville; Alicia Spillman, a 2002 Baylor graduate from Double Oak; Allison Gotcher, a 2002 Baylor graduate from Dallas; and Matt Poe, a 2001 Hardin-Simmons University graduate who will begin studies at Truett Seminary in the fall.
___These university teams are the mainstay of some summer youth camps--an arrangement that helps both the camps and the universities.
___Wayland Baptist University, for example, has three student teams on the road this summer. Two are recreational teams concentrating their work on youth camps; the other is a musical ensemble visiting camps and churches.
___This is the 20th year for Wayland's student recruiting teams.
___"The initial reason for these teams was to be recruitment and ministry teams, and that's the same reason we still do it today," said Admissions Director Shawn Thomas. "We continue to do it because of the impact on students we encounter, both spiritually and in relationships that possibly might lead to recruiting contacts."
___New students at Wayland routinely cite encounters with Wayland student recruiting teams--sometimes many years earlier--as having an impact on their decision to enroll at the university, he explained.
___The same is true for Baylor University's Rec Team, which began with a goal of helping churches with camps and planting seeds in teen minds about maybe one day attending Baylor.
___"We want the young people to get to meet current Baylor students who are growing Christians and sharp, young adults," said Don Mattingly, Baylor's coordinator of youth programs and creator of the Rec Team.
___"The main goal of the Rec Team is to help youth ministers run the camp and allow kids to
see Baylor students in a positive light," he said.
|WAYLAND BAPTIST UNIVERSITY'S musical recruiting team Rejoice sings at a community event before taking to the road for the summer. Members include Miranda Turner (not shown), Kyle Bueermann, Paul Harkey, Bridget Beutler and Teri Mayfield.
___What's good for the university turns out to be both hard work and fun for the student workers. Their summer is marked by long days, short nights and lots of travel.
___Wayland's musical group, Rejoice, is spending six of its 10 weeks at Highland Lakes, a Baptist camp near Austin, with additional travels to Sivells and Inlow camps in New Mexico, Latham Springs in Aquilla and Big Country in Lueders. Wayland's two recreation teams also have served at Highland Lakes and will make appearances at Chaparral in Iowa Park, Circle Six in Stanton, Alto Frio in Leakey, Inlow, Big Country and Plains Baptist Assembly in Floydada. A few Colorado camps also are on the circuit.
___Baylor's Rec Team is leading six weeks of camps outside of Waco, in addition to the two weeks they worked on campus at BaylorYou youth camps. In all, the Baylor team will work with more than 75 churches and 3,000 youth and children.
___They are crossing the state in a customized trailer loaded with recreational equipment. The vehicle is hard to miss because of its brightly colored exterior painted in bold colors of Baylor green and gold.
___The Rec Team program is like a "youth camp on wheels," Mattingly said. The team's mission is to aid church camps, which some churches have to plan on their own.
___The agenda for each camp is developed when the four Baylor team members meet with the youth minister or camp director and gather information regardin
g facilities, age groups and the total number of kids. Then, the Rec Team organizes the appropriate activities.
|TWO high school students working under the direction of Dallas Baptist University mentors minister to children in a low-income housing complex where they held a Bible club The ministry was part of DBU's PaceSetters camps, in which the student ministry team Glowing Heart provides leadership.
___"We try to throw a twist in activities, so it is not only the athletes who want to play," said Recreational Director Alicia Spillman, a 2002 Baylor graduate from Double Oak. "We want every kid to participate and have fun."
___Getting kids involved and well-acquainted with one another is the aim of such Rec Team games as water relays, synchronized swimming contests and "hoppity hop" relays on heavy-duty rubber balloons. The teams for recreation match the Bible study groups in order for kids to bond more and work together as a team.
___"No one wants a recreational team to just play football or ping pong, but instead they want new, exciting team-building games," explained Camp Director Lance Autrey, a 2002 Baylor graduate from Gatesville.
___For example, "Bruce the Moose" is a team game played in the gym. The object of the game is to put rings around the moose's antlers with a hook handle. The crazy part is that the mechanical moose is dancing and constantly in motion.
___Rec Team members from the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor work with between 200 and 1,000 kids at each camp they serve.
___"We have found that the kids really make it worthwhile because even if we're having difficulty with planning or set-up, they get out and have a blast," said first-time Rec staff member Ricky White, a computer graphic design major from Salado. "When the kids get involved in the games, they leave all their concerns behind; they can just let loose and be themselves"
___The summer experiences benefit the university students as well as the university and the youth groups, said Rob Matchett, campus minister and director of Houston Baptist Univesity's two Rec Teams.
___"HBU takes students who are ministry minded and gives them training and experience in actual ministry to students," he said. "The majority of training the students receive is ministry training and team building. They live together in a van or at a campsite for 10 weeks, and it is important for them to work together at a team."
___HBU's Rec Teams will visit 16 camps over 10 weeks. Like their counterparts at other universities, the seven members of each team plan recreation programs, perform skits, lead small groups, share their Christian testimonies and rise to the challenges of whatever is asked of them.
___Sometimes the university students build longer-lasting relationships with teens who need someone to talk to. A Mary Hardin-Baylor Rec Team member has helped one such youth this summer, and the two remain in contact via e-mail.
___While it may take several years to measure the impact the university recruiting teams have on bringing in new students, their impact on the lives of Texas teens is readily apparent.
___Dallas Baptist University's Glowing Heart ministry team, for example, worked with 197 high school students in PaceSetters camps on the DBU campus this summer.
___Through the camps and related service projects the campers were involved in, DBU students recorded 108 professions of faith in Jesus Christ.
___Service projects led by the DBU team included leading backyard Bible clubs in low-income apartment complexes, working with senior adults in retirement and nursing homes, sorting donations at Buckner Benevolence's Shoes for Orphan Souls campaign and participating in street evangelism.
___With reporting by Jenifer Fergason, Teresa Young, Candace DeRosiers, Rand Jenkins and Carol Woodward
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