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2024 South-Central Father-Son Service Camp

by | May 17, 2024 | ALERT Cadet, Camp Reports

From Thursday, March 14th–17th, a Company of 28 consisting of 9 fathers and 16 sons plus 3 members of the Cadre came together for the 3 days of outstanding fellowship and service at Big Sandy, Texas. The fathers and sons were split into three platoons, led by LTC Caleb Johns, LTC James Paczkowski and CFC Hudson Turnbull. LTC Calvin Johns led the Color Guard. The Cadre was composed of Sergeant Benjamin Lowman (Operations Chief, Drill Instructor), Captain Rick Warner (Logistics Chief), and the undersigned (Camp Commandant).

The camp operated as a campout with each family preparing their own meals. The theme for the camp was Philippians 3:14, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Our motto was PRESSING ON! Sharing, teaching, and conversation during the weekend centered around encouragement to press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. Evenings were spent around the campfire, where fathers and sons shared their testimonies of how they were saved and came to know Jesus as their Lord.

Friday morning wisdom search was led by Lt. David Johns who provided through his teaching an acrostic for ALERT:

  • Accept responsibility,
  • Lead courageously,
  • Eternal mindset,
  • Reject passivity,
  • Trust God.

Following this the Company served by picking up trash along the adjoining roads north of the IAA campus, White Oak Rd. and Weeping Willow Rd, collecting three pickup truck loads. After this, they cleared a fence line of tangled vines, shrubs, and trees in the northwestern corner of the campground.

The Saturday morning wisdom search was led by Lt. Craig Paczkowski through a comparative discussion from Jeremiah 17:5-8 of the cursed man and blessed man. We observed how the Holy Spirit brought truths to light from various members of the Company.

Saturday began with a morning jody run followed by fun activities including four rounds of human stratego and practicing a river crossing. Always aware that the core team in ALERT Cadet is the father-son team, Saturday afternoon was set aside as free time for fathers and sons to spend together talking through the testimonies and teachings from the camp. Many spent that time together in a canoe.

Sunday morning the Company gathered in Pine Lodge for worship and bible teaching by Maj. Smith from Mark 10:32-52 where Jesus twice asked, “What do you want Me to do for you?” Each one was challenged to:

  • Aim to achieve the goal God has set for you.
  • Spare no cost in this quest.
  • Spare no effort in your pressing toward the mark of knowing and loving Jesus.
    Following worship, the Company assembled for final inspection with opportunity to encourage each camp participant to continue pressing on to lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of them.

Based on evaluations submitted by every father and every son, the following went well:

  1. Fathers connected with sons and sons with fathers.
  2. Sharing testimony around the campfire was highly acclaimed.
  3. Service project allowed for positive interaction for fathers and sons with other participants.
  4. Father-son free time on Saturday afternoon.
  5. Human stratego (an innovative adaptation of capture the flag) Saturday morning was a favorite with participants begging to play yet another round.

Based on the evaluations submitted, things to improve or add:

  1. Schedule at least one meal per day where all the fathers and sons prepare and share a meal together such as pot-luck style for more interaction.
  2. For meals not done as a Company, schedule shorter time than the 1.5 hours in this camp.
  3. Repeat memory verse(s) at each formation and encourage memorizing before the camp.
  4. Inform the Company during opening formation that godly character will be rewarded. Then during the camp “catch them doing something right” and acknowledge during the next formation.
  5. Put a gaga ball court over by the basketball court.

Finally, continuity of the quality of camps like this one requires continued development of sergeants like Sgt. Benjamin Lowman with hearts and vision for the mission of ALERT Cadet, to turn the hearts of fathers to sons and sons to fathers (Malachi 4:6).

Respectfully submitted,
Maj. Michael Smith
Camp Commander