Southern Missouri District Merit Camp -2005  (680 Pictures Following Report)

Our annual merit camp was held from August 1 through August 6 at Knob Noster State Park. There were 80 boys in attendance. On the average, each boy earned a merit each day of the camp, although some class selections included more than one merit and some merits took more than one day. For example, boys could sign up for Compass and Orienteering in a single class selection. Most classes consisted of three 2-hour and 45-minute sessions, although some consisted of 6 sessions and some only 2 depending on the difficulty of the merit. Many of the merits required that the boys have prerequisites completed before attending the class. For each class, experts were sought out to teach or assist in the teaching. We had missionaries and pastors come and help teach Christian Missions, took the boys to a trucking firm in Harrisonville for Trucking Transportation, pilots for Aviation, Pastor Stan Hargis from Lake Girardeau Assembly for Bible Merits, and of course Royal Ranger leaders for a wide range of camping merits.

The boys started each with a prepared private devotional time called Secret Place. The overall theme for the camp was Send Me to the Nations. The daily themes were Who am I?, Why am I Here?, What am I Doing?, Where am I Going?, and How Do I Get There?. The morning group devotions and evening services all followed these themes. On the first night, the entire camp met for a traditional council fire in which David North asked each boy, "Who do You Think You Are?" The correct answer was "A Child of the Living God!" The individual Patrol Advisors and Assistant Advisors led separate Tuesday and Wednesday nights services for their own patrols. A group of one boy per patrol planned and led the Thursday night traditional council fire. It was pretty wild with each group presenting a skit and the boys leading the song service, but Taylor Moore did a great job bringing everyone back to reality in his message, calling us to Work in the Kingdom. We have some great young preachers in Royal Rangers! The final night's service was a solemn assembly that we do each year. This year, each of the Patrol Advisors anointed the boys in their patrol with oil and commissioned them to go out and win souls. There was an incredible time of prayer following with the leaders and boys ministering to each other.

In addition to the boy's class work, they also competed each day for Honor Patrol. They received points for KP duty, morning inspection, personal hygiene and attitude in their cabins, cabin inspection, attendance and behavior in classes, tournament and competitions, trash details, skits, and about every aspect of camp life. In the end, Patrol 1, the Paintballin' Panthers, won the coyote hide prizes.

Other highlights of the camp were: Songs, yells, flags and bolos as each patrol competed to earn the Gold Patrol of Excellence streamers; Great food from a wonderful kitchen staff led by Gerri Coulter, Paul Davis, and Debbi Reaves; A staff of over 50 full and part time Royal Ranger leaders; recreation time each day where the boys typically took advantage of the pool or played basketball or football.

The Merit Camp was brought to a close with an Award Ceremony at Warrensburg Assembly of God Church. The church was packed with parents, as the boys were each recognized for their completed merits and hard work. Camp Commander, Don Bixler, recognized each of the staff, DJ Hall gave a "short" devotion, and David North gave five boys an opportunity to share a testimony about the camp.

On the way home I asked my boys how they liked the camp. They said it was really strange how that it was so much work and still fun at the same time. So I asked them if they shouldn't encourage our other boys to attend a camp where they make you get up at 6:45am, brush your teeth, take a shower, make your bed and clean your area good enough for inspection, do daily devotions, do kitchen detail, have uniform inspection, attend class for 9 hours a day, and go to bed on time. Matthew said, "I wish it had been two weeks long!"