Spiritual day camp provides faith, recreation, fun

Aaron Kocian, 10, middle and Brandtley Gray, 9, bottom, race to climb up an inflatable water obstacle course while counselor Tyler Tomasino sprays them with a hose at the Pine Cove "Camp in the City" Day Camp at First United Methodist Church in Victoria.

The Pine Cove day camp, a Christian summer camp, is designed to allow kids to have fun while learning about Jesus Christ.

The five-day camp at First United Methodist Church in Victoria ran from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m for children who have completed first through fifth grades and ended Friday.

"It is a great place to share Jesus Christ with kids in a fun way," said Jordy Barksdale, the site coordinator for Pine Cove Day Camp in Victoria.

Activities through the week included group worship, outdoor play time on water obstacle courses, trampolines and a rock climbing wall, indoor games and laser tag.

"Learning about God has been my favorite part of camp. I get closer to God every time I learn about him," said Wade Patek, 10, of Victoria.

Barksdale added, "Each activity is tied back to the word of Jesus Christ. We make it fun and exciting."

This is the second year for the camp in Victoria.

"Last year was the first year that we ever did it here, and our numbers were significantly lower. This year, there is a waiting list, which is rare to have such a turnover so quickly," said Barksdale.

The camp was at full capacity with 175 campers.

Pine Cove is based in Tyler and runs camps in seven states. The 700 counselors from across the country are selected to work with the children through the summer. Thirty-one counselors run the camp in Victoria and stay with members of the parish for the week.

"The campers definitely become closer to each other and also to the counselors to where they develop a relationship with them. The counselors really invest in the campers, and then, the campers get to see what it means for a college student to live out their faith," said Barksdale.

Hailey Byrd, 9, of Victoria, is a returning camper. Her counselor, Avery Walker, of Dallas, nicknamed Eiffel Shower, helped her during Bible study, where she "learned that God created you with his special talent," Hailey said.