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Student Finds Inspiration at Summer Leadership Camp

By Janlyn Thaxton



Ashton Machicek is clearly in the Spirit as she raises her arms over her head and pounds her fists to the beat of drums and electric guitar. Ashton’s exuberance and abundant energy are shared by some 550 high school and junior high school students who have gathered this morning in Hardin-Simmons University’s Behrens Auditorium for a camp that has been held on campus for 23 years. {{more}}The camp is one of several large gatherings this summer conducted by the Fellowship of Christian Athletes on college campuses. Ashton, who will be a senior at Shiner High School, planted squarely halfway between San Antonio and Houston, says sheAshton Machicek has been involved in athletics since junior high school and later became interested in FCA. The auburn-haired athlete is a cross country runner, a member of the Shiner High School tennis team, and has been a cheerleader since she was in the seventh grade.This is the second year Ashton has attended an FCA leadership camp, but this is her first time on the HSU campus. With intense sincerity, she says of the camp, “It has changed my life. I feel like my eyes have been opened. I am seeing things from a different perspective today. At this camp, the group leaders have been so open. The speakers have really taken things down to a personal level with all of the students. We really understand things now in a totally different way.”The camp’s activities are pretty intense, starting each morning around 7:00 and going each evening until 11:30. The day is filled with speakers, worship music, and time spent in group discussions called huddle groups with college athletes serving as leaders. Pat Ford, the FCA camp director, is a chaplain and character coach for the FCA at West Texas A&M University. But each summer, Ford comes back to his alma mater to conduct the FCA camp at HSU. Both Pat and his wife, Kim Ford graduated from HSU. Pat was a baseball player, and now their daughter Kinsey is a sophomore volleyball player at HSU.Ford says, “All of the students who come to the camp are Pat Ford, FCA camp director and HSU alumnus, with daughter, Kinsey Fordpotential leaders in their individual schools across the state. I think that gives this camp a real dynamic. We have great bands and great speakers, but these students are naturally inclined to lead. The whole environment makes this a much anointed week with God raising up leaders within the FCA culture.” Ashton agrees that the camp has a special atmosphere. “In the huddle sessions, we get a chance to talk about some of the common problems we face at school and in our sports. At this camp, we gain a lot of insight on how to solve many of those problems.”Ashton continues, “We have learned this week what it takes to be a good athlete overall. That doesn’t just mean being good at our sport, it means being a good person. I have learned that we all share a love of the game, but we also should share a love for each other, both as teammates and as opponents.”Ford says, “We want to spiritually equip each student to grow in their faith. Our goal is to walk away with each of the campers having a personal relationship with Christ.”Ashton says she is looking forward to the chance to put into action “the lessons I have learned this summer at the FCA camp—lessons on how to win, how to lose, and how to play the game beyond the game.”Zeke Dorr Band Bill Smith, Phil Smith of Weatherford Zeke Dorr, Hardin-Simmons student Allen Evans of Abilene Brad Crawford of Weatherford

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