Cow Camp 2024 Round Up

Blazin’ Trails Cowboy Church Youth: Unity and Adventure at ‘Cow Camp’

Introduction to ‘Cow Camp’

The Blazin’ Trails Cowboy Church youth group recently wrapped up their eagerly anticipated annual ‘Cow Camp,’ a four-day overnight event dedicated to strengthening Faith in God, fortifying friendships, and building character. This year’s theme, ‘Unity,’ was chosen to emphasize the importance of togetherness and solidarity among the youth of Blazin’ Trails. The numerous activities and engaging nightly-worship sessions were geared towards fostering a sense of camaraderie and deepening their understanding of what it means to live a Christian life.

With Cow Camp’s home-base located at The Ponderosa (the grounds of Blazin’ Trials), the quiet grounds provided an ideal backdrop for reflection and growth away from distracting technology that is such an overwhelming part of young people’s lives today. The peaceful environment allowed the youth to disconnect from their daily routines and comfort-zones and immerse themselves fully in the camp’s experiences. From team-building exercises to community outreach, each activity was deliberately chosen to encourage not only collaboration and mutual support, but also personal growth.

Central to ‘Cow Camp’ was the daily schedule that balanced spiritual guidance with recreational fun. Morning worship set the tone for the upcoming day, grounding participants in their faith and preparing them for the day’s adventures. Afternoons were filled with excursions or challenges, all designed to promote the message of Unity. As the sun set, evenings were reserved for heartfelt worship inside the church where the youth were not only listening to a sermon but were asked to actively engage in it. Additionally, each day a period of quiet time was reserved for the youth to journal, do their own Bible study, or pray to God for His guidance.

Day One: Arrival and Initial Challenge

After the conclusion of the Wednesday night church service, the atmosphere was charged with a mix of excitement and anticipation. Around 9:00 PM, the youth participants bid farewell to their families, but for most of them that wasn’t the hardest part. The hardest part came next when they had to turn over… their cellphones! That’s right—every youth participant had to relinquish their beloved devices so that there would be no distractions from the outside world. Next they began to set up their sleeping bags within the auxiliary building, transforming the “Kid’s Corral” school rooms into bedrooms (separate rooms for boys and girls with chaperons sleeping right outside in the doors). This space would be their temporary home for the duration of the camp.

The evening’s activities commenced with a quick dinner, providing the energy needed for the first challenge that laid ahead. Spirits were high, and the excitement among the youth was palpable. After dinner the participants were blindfolded and transported to an undisclosed location in a horse trailer! Right off the bat, the element of surprise combined with the need to trust in their chaperons added to the sense of unity and adventure around which Cow Camp centered.

Upon arrival at an unknown large field, the youth were divided into two groups—boys and girls—each group tied together with straps. Blindfolds removed, the groups embarked on a meticulously planned 20-stop scavenger hunt, a two-mile hike that took them through the sprawling ranch. Coinciding on the hottest day of the year so far, this initial challenge was designed not to test their physical stamina, but to encourage teamwork and collective problem-solving. Each stop along the way presented a clue, many of which tested their Biblical trivia skills, that required the participants to work together to progress to the next step. The experience was both exhilarating and demanding, setting the tone for the rest of the camp and emphasizing the core values of teamwork, resilience, and Faith.

As the night wore on, the youth navigated the dark, unfamiliar terrain, relying on each other and their collective wits to complete the scavenger hunt. By the time they returned “home” to the auxiliary building at nearly 2 AM, exhausted but triumphant, they had already begun to forge the bonds of friendship and trust that would be strengthened throughout the rest of the week.

Day Two: Lessons in Consequences and Service

The second day of Blazin’ Trails Cowboy Church Youth’s annual ‘Cow Camp’ began with a morning Bible study, setting a reflective tone for the day. The study focused on themes of responsibility and the consequences of one’s actions. This session provided the youth with a scriptural foundation that would be pivotal for the day’s activities, because following the study, the group visited the local jail. There they were met by the local sheriff and jail staff who engaged them in a candid discussion about the real-life consequences of poor decisions. Separated into groups, the boys and girls were given a comprehensive tour of the living facilities and cells, further impressing upon them the reality that all actions have consequences. This visit was designed to offer a stark, tangible understanding of the outcomes that can follow from breaking the law.

In the afternoon, the youth participated in a service project at the home of a church member, embodying the teachings of Jesus to care for widows and those in need. This project was a practical lesson in servitude, community support and generosity. The tasks included clearing brush, replacing wood on a barn, and repairing fences. Yet if they had not quite yet understood the lesson of humility that was intended—they soon got another one when the youth were dropped off at the local supermarket and had to get out of their horse trailer in front of amazed and gawking onlookers.

Throughout Day One, the youth were guided to reflect on how their actions and decisions impact not only their lives but also the lives of those around them. The combination of the morning’s sobering jail visit and the afternoon’s fulfilling service project aimed to instill a deeper sense of responsibility, empathy, and the importance of making positive choices in the lives of the young participants. Following dinner, evening worship once again touched upon those character-building topics.

Day Three: Overcoming Obstacles

Friday, Day Three, at the Blazin’ Trails Cowboy Church Youth ‘Cow Camp’ was once again dedicated to fostering teamwork among the participants. After breakfast and morning worship, the day commenced with an exhilarating obstacle course at The Ponderosa. Various portions of the course were designed to challenge the youth to overcome fear and trust in their neighbor. Each section of the course demanded cohesive effort, effective communication, and mutual reliance. From climbing walls to crossing balance beams made out of fallen trees, every obstacle was a test of some sort—overcoming inhibitions, facing fears, learning to cooperate. The final challenge, a muddy belly crawl, required the youth to encourage and support one another, ensuring everyone reached the end together.

After the physically demanding activities, the youth were given an opportunity to unwind and relax. They were welcomed by Pastor Harvey and Kim Gates to their home, where after 3 days of hard work, an evening of leisure awaited them. The serene environment of the pool provided a perfect backdrop for relaxation. The youth enjoyed swimming, engaging in light-hearted conversations, and fun. This time of relaxation was essential for them to recuperate because the final day of Cow Camp would be the most exciting yet.

Day Four: Rodeo Fun

Saturday at the Blazin’ Trails Cowboy Church Youth ‘Cow Camp’ was a day brimming with excitement and hands-on ranch activities. Following morning worship, the youth found themselves traveling back to the Ranch at Rockin’ Cattle Company (still in the horse trailer, but this time without blindfolds). The day commenced with the youth engaging in goat herding, an activity that not only tested their agility but also their ability to work as a team. The young participants had the opportunity to understand the nuances of guiding and managing livestock, an essential skill in ranch life and a greater metaphor for how to deal with chaos, obstinate behavior and general unruliness in our daily lives. Following that, the campers were given genuine lassos so they could try their hands at steer roping. Other youth opted to do donkey rides out of the gate.

Mid-day a long lunch break was combined with horseback riding. For many of the youth, this was their first time riding a horse, and it couldn’t have been more memorable. The serene trails, open pastures and well-trained horses provided an unforgettable experience. However, the adventure wasn’t over yet. As a grand-finale, the final activities of the day were bull riding for the boys and barrel racing for the girls.

Back at The Ponderosa, that evening was the last of Cow Camp. The evening was not just about reminiscing but also about preparing for returning home. At their final evening worship, the Youth Leaders congratulated the youth for all of their accomplishments throughout the week. They also offered words of love and support, in hope that the youth will remember the meaning of Faith and Unity upon returning to their normal lives.

Sunday Morning Worship and Reflections

Sunday morning arrived and the youth rolled up their suitcases and packed up their belongings. At 10 AM, they joined rest of the congregation for the Sunday morning worship service which would mark the official end of their Cow Camp experience. Everyone in attendance was exceptionally proud to hear of the success of this year’s Cow Camp. The Youth Leaders spoke of the growth among the participants, highlighting how the challenges faced during the camp had forged stronger bonds among them. They recounted stories of perseverance, teamwork, and newfound friendships, each tale underscored by the Christian values that Blazin’ Trails Cowboy Church holds dear.

Indeed, this year’s theme of ‘Unity’ was chosen especially for the Youth of our church, but the success of the youth brings all of us closer together. For now, the Youth are following the lead of our generous and faithful adult members, but not too long in the future these bright and kind adolescents will become leaders themselves. Therefore as church, this event brought ‘Unity’ to us all—knowing that investing in our young members is an investment in our future.

As the service concluded, the youth rejoined their families, their faces glowing with a sense of accomplishment.. Not too surprisingly, they didn’t immediately ask for those once precious phones back. Perhaps they realized that they didn’t need to text, when they could sit and talk with a friend. Or more importantly, they had learned they could put down their phone and pick up their Bible instead. As always, at Blazin’ Trails Cowboy Church, our number one goal is to spread The Gospel of Jesus Christ throughout the world. Now we can feel confident our Youth will continue that mission. Congratulations Cow Camp Graduates of 2024.

*BTCC would also like to thank the amazing group of volunteers who gave up their time. Behind the scenes volunteers led worship, organized outings, cooked, donated facilities/horses, etc. in order to make this possible. These generous individuals include: Harvey & Kim Gates, Billy & Callie Carpenter, Jason & Alicia Cockerline, Ian and Bree Shain, Chris and Dennette Propst, Audra Perry, Deb Beam, Logan and Carson Carpenter, April Dillon, Rory Metcalf, Jason Moretz, Ephraim Killian, Keith Carpenter and Jeffrey & Kylie Campbell and many others.

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