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Bethel golfers build tradition of service at Christian sports camp

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NORTH NEWTON, KAN. – After their third straight year of working as a team at a summer camp, Bethel College golfers are beginning to see the experience as a highlight of their participation in the sport.

That’s the assessment of Bethel golf coach Gregg Dick, who took seven of his team members to Kids Across America, a camp on Table Rock Lake in southern Missouri, for four days in early June. KAA is a Christian sports camp for inner-city children and youth – around 6,300 come to the organization’s facilities in Missouri each summer from nearly 500 cities across the United States.

This was the first trip to KAA for the one senior (Aaron Howard, Halstead) and the one incoming freshman (Austin Fearing) who went, but the four sophomores (Jordan Esau, Hutchinson; Eric Regier, Haysville; John Reimer, Hesston; and Cameron Voth, Goessel) were going for the second time and the one junior (Zach Frey, Goessel) for the third time.

The golf instruction in which the Bethel golfers participated takes place at the Payne Stewart Memorial Golf Complex, funded through gifts of the Stewart family and other professional golfers to honor the 1991 and 1999 U.S. Open champion, who died in a plane crash in 1999.

Because it was the 10th anniversary of Stewart’s death, both the Golf Channel and NBC Sports were doing special coverage that included the golf complex while the Bethel group was there. “None of us were interviewed,” Dick says, but when the coverage aired, “we could see ourselves in the background working with the kids – only because we knew to look.”

The service trip is “a great experience” for his golfers, Dick says. “It’s now to the point where the guys are looking forward to going back and they begin to talk about it early in the spring.

“It’s starting to become a tradition – [the staff at KAA] look forward to us coming and we look forward to going.”

This time around, there weren’t as many young campers who chose golf as a specialty, Dick says, which was initially disappointing. However, that meant there was time for more one-on-one instruction, which everyone enjoyed, he adds.

The Bethel golfers also have time for recreation and their own team-building activities, which happened in a different way this year through an “adventure course” experience, Dick says.

Bethel College is a four-year liberal arts college affiliated with Mennonite Church USA. Founded in 1887, it is the oldest Mennonite college in North America. Bethel is known for its academic excellence and was the only Kansas private college to be ranked in Forbes.com’s listing of “America’s Best Colleges” for 2009 and one of only two Kansas colleges listed in Colleges of Distinction 2008-09. For more information, see the Bethel Web site at www.bethelks.edu.

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