Pioneering a Soccer Camp

This summer I was blessed to be part of an incredible coaching team. We were pioneering a new stream of soccer camps for older kids and exploring whether there was an opportunity to start up more elite camps. There was an adventure at every turn, while running these nation-wide camps! We would often set up on day 1 and then have to completely re-plan when seeing the kids come off the bus, because they were a different audience than we were expecting.  For example, some weeks we had kids that had no idea how to play soccer.  On other weeks, we had almost all the players from the top U15 soccer team in the city.

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Since this new brand of camps was just getting started, we did a lot of travelling across Canada in order to pioneer the work. Our team led 5 soccer camps in 4 provinces. This was a small portion of the 183 sports camps that AIA hosted this summer, however, we probably travelled more than any other team from AIA. The entire extent of our travels looked like this for the 6 weeks: Langley to Red Deer, Red Deer to Edmonton, Edmonton to Calgary, Calgary to Regina, Regina to Winnipeg, Winnipeg back to Regina, Regina back to Calgary, Calgary to Lethbridge, Lethbridge back to Calgary, Calgary to Hamilton, and finally Hamilton back to BC and Alberta!  

What was most exciting for me, was seeing our team so open to serving God.  No matter who was at camp, no matter what needed to be done, we all worked as a team to accomplish the goal to provide excellent clinical and spiritual training.  More importantly, though we were able to speak into communities and speak truth and love into the lives of these kids. We saw kids lives impacted.  We had our own lives impacted.  We connected with communities that served alongside us, fed us, housed us and did life with us!  It was a profound experience that I will never forget.

This summer has laid a foundation for me as I seek to help improve our AIA summer camps. We are praising God for the work He has done, and is continuing to do in these communities! It is amazing to see how God moves in the hearts of kids and answers their prayers. Our first week in Winnipeg we were facing infamous mosquito populations!  We had mentioned to the kids that dragonflies eat mosquitos and prayed with them that God would send a dragonfly to help reduce the mosquitos. That afternoon our camp was joined by two dragonflies and our kids were encouraged that God heard our prayers. The smiles of children bring much joy.

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A great example of spiritual multiplication happened with the volunteers we had during the second week of camps in Winnipeg. We were being supported by a group called LBE- Living Bible Explorers, and they were just phenomenal in their interactions with inner city kids we had at camp that week. There was more than a few instances where these children would literally run away from our camp (some were really troubled) and the LBE volunteers would go track them down, talk patiently with them, and bring them back like a good shepherd. At the end of the day during debrief, my lead-team could really build into the LBE group and likewise they could build into us, each sharpening each other in faith and encouraging one another in their walk with Christ. This was truly multiplication at work as there were many evangelical groups that now experienced sport as an effective ministry tool that could used in their hometown with local athletes to bring the love and hope in Christ.

  • Rachel Bauer, AIA Staff member and soccer camps coordinator