by Mason Phillips

DAVIS—Think back to summer camp. Wherever that was for you, there may be a fond memory there of writing home and telling mom and dad all about the activities one spent doing that day.

You can almost hear it now, “Dear Mom and Dad, Camp is wonderful. Today, I climbed the tower all by myself! Then there was a volleyball game, and our team won. Later, we all went to the lake and played water games. I love camp.”

Well, even though today those are probably phone calls and text messages, it really isn’t very different. And now there are even more games to play. I went and checked out the different activities available for our campers and sponsors to enjoy, and I even got to participate a little bit myself.

The first thing I wanted to see was the ropes course. When I arrived that day, the staff members were as accommodating as they always are. The front desk staff was just as friendly and helpful as they were the first week, and they escorted me to the ropes course. There, I saw the two extremely large challenge towers. There were kids climbing (fearlessly, I’m sure) and I wanted to talk to Taylor Lyall. He’s the supervisor for the ropes course. He told me how roughly 2,000 kids per week visit the course for the challenge. His job is to make sure everything is being handled safely and all the equipment is up to code.
Not far away, there were kids playing games of “life-sized” foosball and 10-square (which seems to be a much more extreme version of 4-square). We passed by as we went down to the volleyball courts. That’s where I met Kristen Kayler. She told me how all the competitions are conducted for volleyball. There are several divisions based on age group and gender. They compete in the final where they will win a T-shirt, courtesy of Oklahoma Baptist University.

I also attended a new ping-pong tournament held on Thursday. Because of the large crowds who want to be there, they had to set up barricades separating the spectators from the athletes. The competition goes all the way down to single elimination and the two remaining competitors play their final on the platform in front of a full tabernacle before the Friday night service.

Kristen made sure to help me understand all the recreation available. There’s a basketball shootout, horseshoes, water-sports and of course the 5K run. Personally, I was interested in the 5K, because I would be running in it. The Falls Creek 5K happens on Friday mornings. To participate, you simply meet at the designated starting line at 7:45 a.m.

I enjoy a good 5K, I’ve attended several around the state, so I had no real concerns. As I walked to the starting line in the morning heat, I saw all the athletically fit kids that I’d be up against. Hope started to dwindle, as I am not as fit as some of them appeared to be. Nevertheless, I took my mark and waited for the signal.

When Kristen said go, we all took off. To tell you a bit about the course, there are hills. In fact, there’s really no flat area in the entire course. It has become the most difficult run I’ve ever attempted. But I did finish with a little over 25 minutes (not my personal best). For those who have wondered if they’d like to run the race, it’s a challenge. Don’t let it be the first 5K you run, but do put it on your ‘must run’ list of races.

Recreation is a major part of camp life. To be without it wouldn’t be camp. Recreation, of course, takes a strong, determined and willing staff to help keep it all together. I asked Lyall what his mission was. He told me this: “It allows us to interact with kids. It’s different because they teach themselves in many ways. The way they are challenged shows them how they can walk more with God.”

So in that old “dear mom and dad” letter (or text message), a camper not only says how exciting the ropes course was, or how great the 5K was, but also says something about how God spoke to them. The challenges of a ropes course are similar to the challenges of our everyday life. There isn’t always an option to rappel down and walk away, but to trust in God and climb all the way up. Sometimes there’s no option to stop running the race and walk it, we need God to inspire us to believe that we can press on toward the goal.

If you’d like to see my interview with Taylor and Kristen, check it out at You can also follow @BehindtheCreek on

Mason Phillips is Falls Creek correspondent for the Baptist Messenger.