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Appling County church offers 'man camp' for boys


Satilla Baptist

Eric Mincey, a trained volunteer fireman, teaches that the proper way to extinguish an oil-based fire is by aiming at the base, not the top of the flame.

BAXLEY — Pastor Tommy Davis wasn’t the only one who noticed. Several others had.

Young men didn’t know basic skills Davis and others had learned over the years. Sure, they were good at texting and destroying imaginary swine with ill-tempered birds, but were missing skills like how to change the oil in your car, wire an electrical outlet, and climb a deer stand – skills every south Georgia man worth his salt should have-.

So on a Friday and Saturday, June 6-7, Davis and about a dozen men from Satilla Baptist Church held its 2014 Real Man Camp where 20 participants learned the basics of those skills as well as others such as hunting, first aid, self-defense, and fire safety.

The camp, Davis noted, was a response to the “feminization” of the church.

“Masculine men often see the church as a club for women and children,” he said, “so they avoid it. If this doesn’t change the church will disappear from the cultural scene in 20 years or so.

“The young men who were part of this camp were taught man skills they will need to fulfill God’s purpose for their lives. You’re to love a woman and be a protector, provider, and leader.”

In all of that, he added, they are to look to the ultimate man, Jesus, as the example. Luke 2:52 (“And Jesus kept increasing in wisdom and nature, and in favor with God and men.”) and 1 Corinthians 16:13 (“Be on alert, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong.”) were the guiding verses for the camp.

The women of Satilla Baptist will hold a girls’ version of the camp at another time, Davis noted.

At the Man Camp, “discipline stations” were set up in a 20-acre field. Groups were coordinated by age and rotated around to different stations led by men in the church with experience in that skill set. The Gospel was presented each day, which also included meals (ribs, beans, potatoes – no salads) and a paintball war Saturday afternoon.


The technological divide

One would assume something titled “Man Camp” would be primarily for the fatherless. However, Davis said the reach was more than that.

“We’ve noticed guys from every socioeconomic level, unchurched or not, that didn’t have these skills,” he stated.

As a pre-emptive move against distractions, cell phones were banned at the two-day gathering. “The boys were so interested, though, that we didn’t hear much about their phones,” said Davis. “They totally bought in and were involved. It was very hands-on.”

Evidently, that experience made a stronger connection than something on a video screen. “They’re overwhelmed with technology and video games and it keeps them indoors,” Davis pointed out.

In addition to spiritual matters, their future was made a topic of discussion. “We challenged them with questions on if they want a purpose in life or just drift around aimlessly. Do they want to be able to take care of themselves or be dependent on others?

“Auto maintenance was probably the most popular discipline,” he added, noting his surprise. “We told the boys that one day they would have a car and here was how they could save money [by doing their own maintenance].”

Perhaps the thing participants enjoyed most? “They liked just hanging around our guys,” Davis stated. “Our guys enjoyed it just as much.”