|by Brandan Alford '12 • September 27, 2008|
As Sophomore Chris Beedie sat through a plane ride with 21 fellow Little Giants on their way to Africa this past spring for a missions trip, he thought he had signed up for just one volunteer opportunity. Little did he know, he would commit to some more giving for that following summer. After some persuasion by fellow football player Josh Gangloff, Beedie agreed to participate in this past summer’s Kid’s Across America camp for inner city youth.
Joining Beedie would be fellow football player DJ Singfield. Singfield, after a freshman year here at Wabash, thought nothing could replicate the Wally experience. However, Kid’s Across America seemed to achieve just that, “I felt like there would never be an experience comparable to the ‘Wabash Experience,’” Singfield said. “KAA was just that plus more.”
Kid’s Across America is a Christian-based camp in Golden, Missouri. The camp’s aim is to use sports to spread the message of faith. “Sports open doors of communication,” Beedie
said. “The counselors and kids may come from different backgrounds, but sports are a universal language.”
The camp’s participants, many of whom come from lower-income families, are sponsored by a family or company for the duration of their stay.
This means the kids, whose ages range from ten to 18, pay little to nothing to attend. When the kids arrive, they are taught one very important lesson, Singfield said, “The purpose was to show kids from the inner city that you can live a life glorifying to God and still have fun.”
Beedie describes himself as someone who was “not very pro-active [regarding volunteering] through high school.” However, that seems to have disappeared since he arrived on campus, giving up his spring and summer breaks for philanthropic efforts. “It really taught me how many ways you can help someone every single day,” Beedie said. Beedie and Singfield were two of numerous counselors who devoted weeks to helping 1000+ kids learn Christianity through the power of sports. “There was a lot of work… not a whole lot of time for ‘you’,” Beedie said. “But that was a part of the camp’s message: God 1st, others 2nd, you 3rd.”
For Singfield, the opportunity to use sports to teach the power of God was one he couldn’t miss. “I was also really pumped to be used by God to help others and to be a positive role model to youth,” Singfield said. “Every sport and activity we did was centered around Christ.”
The kid’s may have learned plenty about God, sports, and how the two so commonly intertwine themselves, but they weren’t the only ones. “We [counselors] learned just as much, if not more than the kids did,” Beedie said. “A 13-year old can teach so much.” Beedie went on to explain that there were numerous “teaching moments” throughout the camp, for camper and counselor alike.
The camp, founded in 1978, has three age brackets: 10-12; 13-14; and 15-18. The camps are divided into eight-day weeks. Each camper will attend one of these “weeks.” There are three weeks in a term, and three terms for the counselors and organizers to work. For those Wallies interested in participating in next summer’s K.A.A., there will be a callout by representatives from Wabash later on in the school year. Whoever shows up to these callouts will most certainly see Beedie and Singfield, as both expect to return next year to what the camp calls: “The best summer of your life.” Asked his opinion of the overall experience, Singfield said, “Words will never be able to describe how awesome camp was. Hopefully there are a lot of guys interested in going next year. It’s a part of me that I hold near and dear to my heart.”