Spring Break is a popular time for mission trips and service projects among church youth groups. For the past 19 years, Oklahoma City, Northwest, has taken the time off from school and served the children of the Oklahoma City area.

Champs Camp is a popular destination for those not on the beach or in the mountains for Spring Break. One would quickly know why many chose to spend their Spring Break

Chris Gulley, student pastor at Oklahoma City, Northwest addresses campers before a day of sports.

at Oklahoma City, Northwest after spending time in the high energy and fun-filled environment.

A unique attribute to Champs Camp is the student-led environment. Members of the youth group and members of partnering churches’ youth groups are leaders of small groups of children, leading them in Bible studies and sports lessons.

When asked about the importance of members of the youth group leading at what some may perceive a young age, Chris Gulley, student pastor at Oklahoma City, Northwest, explained, “It’s a training ground for our students. They’ve spent about 12 hours on Sunday evenings (leading up to the camp), going through training, equipping on evangelism, leadership development and behavioral modification with kids among other things. So it’s a rich opportunity for our students to be developed as leaders.”

Glenn Barber, childhood ministries specialist for the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma and interim children’s pastor at Oklahoma City, Northwest emphasized the primary focus of the event. “We’re focusing on evangelism, introducing God, Christ and the Bible to them. We are also focused on training students,” he said. “One of the things I was very impressed with is the intensity of the students we’ve got in leadership here. You realize how in tune they are in being a leader and serving Christ.”

Student volunteers went through rigorous training in order to obtain leadership roles at Champs Camp. Students who attend Oklahoma City, Northwest have to be “emotionally invested in the local church, not just attend. There needs to be a buy in at the church level,” explained Gully.

“We have three Sundays worth of training. Two of those are four hours long, and the Sunday before is a full day of training from noon to 8:30 in the evening ending in a time of worship and prayer,” said Gulley.

Students at Oklahoma City, Northwest need to be a part of the leadership team. However, Champs Camp is a group effort by many churches in the metro. Students from other youth groups are encouraged to send in a letter of recommendation upon applying to help for the week.

By partnering with other churches, this extends the reach and area of impact in the children reached at Champs Camp. Oklahoma City, Northwest partners with churches as far

Two young Champs Camp campers play “Gorilla, Man, Gun” together in the morning rally

as Newcastle, Summit.

Through the sports camp, doors are opened to the lives and families of children who attend.

“Sports are simply a funnel or conduit to engage kids in fun activity,” said Gulley, “Our key focus is to build teamwork, comradery and unity, which builds a relationship and that is when you earn the right to share the Gospel.”

Champs Camp is an all-day event, for the duration of Spring Break, solving many parents’ need for a place for their children to go while not in school. Through early drop off and late pickup, the church has seen attendance dramatically increase over the years.

“In any venue that we have the opportunity to share the Gospel with kids, I’m all for it,” said Barber, “But the way Champs Camp is structured and set up lends itself to warming up families to the church and to what we do.”

What is one of Gulley’s favorite elements of Champs Camp year after year of the Metro outreach program?

“From the student pastors’ perspective, I look forward to seeing the transforming power that leading kids does when you are intentionally living with that missional mindset, constantly being stretched with your skill set with these kids, you see transformation happen in front of your eyes.”

Through Champs Camp, Oklahoma City, Northwest continues to look outward and strive to transform the community through serving Christ and serving others.