Meet The Gentlemen

Kevin is a native New Yorker, but currently resides in Ohio where he is a sophomore at Cedarville University. When he’s not on the track running the 1500m and the steeplechase, he’s hitting the Adirondacks for some hiking or skiing!

He joins our Tuff Camp staff and is looking forward to meeting new people and developing new friendships. “I am also looking forward to working one on one with the campers. I have been discipled by older guys and know how much of an impact it can have. So, I am excited to hopefully disciple some kids and help them out.”

“I am praying for a heart that is ready and willing to do whatever God needs me to. I think some kids may really just need someone to listen and encourage them, others may need me to call them out or give advice.”

He asks for prayers to continue growing closer to the Lord and to keep learning. Pray the campers would come to camp excited and with open hearts and that the Lord helps him discern what is best for each kid.

Dorian is a junior at USC Upstate and he focuses on the 1500/mile and he is joining the Tuff Camp Staff! He enjoys hiking, exploring new places and trying new restaurants. He is looking forward to making new friends and meeting people who share his two passions - Jesus and running! Tuff camp will be a great place for him to grow in his walk with Christ and an “opportunity to show high school athletes that they are not alone in their struggles with their faith and in their athletic pursuits.” “I’m praying that the Lord reveal to me how much I must rely on Him in my everyday life and in every aspect of my life. And I’m praying He use me and my story to reveal who God really is to people who don’t yet know him.” Please be praying for Dorian as he continues his support raising, that he grows this summer and that the Lord equips him with the spiritual tools needed to help other believers grow in their walks with Christ. And when things get hard with school and training, pray he trusts God and His truths!

Zac will be returning to Tuff Camp for his 8th year. He did 4 years as a camper and this will be his 4th as a counselor.

“I keep coming back because God amazes me every year with how he uses TUFF to change lives. He takes a group of people with all kinds of spiritual backgrounds, and creates an amazing community that is hungry to grow together and learn what it means to have personal relationship with Jesus. I can’t pass up on an opportunity to be a part of a community like that, even if it is just a week. Plus it’s pretty fun.”

He is most looking forward to winning the team competition!

“Last time I checked Vegas had us as the odds on favorite at 7-2.”

This summer Zac will be sharing about the security we have through God. Please pray for him as he finalized those preparations and pray he speaks with confidence and clarity and the Lord gives him the words that will impact the campers.

Also joining the team are Thomas, Madison, Raine and David.

Meet The Ladies

Bri is a junior at the University of Colorado and she is returning to serve as Tuff Camp Staff!

“Last year was my first TUFF camp experience, and it was awesome. TUFF isn’t just a running camp; it is a family. There is so much love and friendship shared between counselors and campers through workouts, Bible studies and our crazy games and shenanigans. I’m going back to build off of the relationships I have formed and to allow God to work through me to help in whatever way I can. And also to get my chance at playing water polo that the staff did not get last year.

“People can be praying for the athletes that are thinking about coming to camp, that they can reach out to friends and teammates that have never been to TUFF, and that everyone who wants to come this year is able to.”

We welcome Mikayla to our Tuff Camp Staff! She is looking forward to growing her relationship with God, to be able to display His glory, not just where she lives, and traveling to a new place. She’s praying that through this trip, the Lord molds her into someone who can be an example to others at the camp, as well as back home.

“I would like that you guys pray that I stay focused on God as my goal, not get distracted, as well as opening my spiritual eyes and heart to receive everything God has for me. And that I also make sure I show God’s glory, not my own.”

Anna brings a unique component to the Switzerland team as a physical therapist! She is looking forward to making genuine connections with people as she serves them professionally. She’s excited to see how God can use her in presences and conversation.

“I am praying that God can create healthy relationships and healing conversations during this trip.”

Please pray she continues to walk closely with the Lord as she prepares for this trip and that she is continually gaining wisdom through His Word. And please pray the ministry for the whole team is influential to others.

Also joining the team are Jacqueline, Amy, Paige, Jordyn and Sarah. Amy, Paige, Jordyn and Sarah will start their summer with Tuff Camp and then will head to Switzerland.

Staff Fellowship and Preparation for TUFF

The last few days getting prepared for TUFF Camp have been amazing so far. All of the counselors met up at the AIA headquarters in Xenia, Ohio where we got to meet each other and get an insight as to how we were all feeling going into camp. This is my first year coming to TUFF camp, so coming in I was nervous about what to expect, but I can honestly say that the last few days have been so fulfilling and amazing. The counselors and staff have all been so welcoming and open with sharing their backgrounds, journeys with faith, and their struggles as they are all continuing to navigate through the process of being collegiate athletes.

One of the days we were all on campus, each counselor participated in team building activities at the ropes course in Xenia, where we learned about communication, teamwork, and trust. Completing challenges allowed each one of us to rely on one another to complete difficult tasks, while also understanding how we can use those skills to interact with the campers at TUFF, while also using the Lord to guide us through the next week. It was so helpful to see how God works in every scenario of our lives and puts obstacles in front of us to not only humble us, but to help us face adversity with grace.

One of the most special moments I have experienced in the last few days though was when all the counselors and staff members met up and went over the “Four H’s” (Heritage, Hero, Highlight, Heartache). This activity allowed me to understand each person so much better as it gave me a glimpse into their spiritual journey and the difficulties they encounter. Going over heartaches was one of the most powerful experiences I have witnessed from this group of people over the last few days. The vulnerability, strength, and bravery each individual had completely blew me away. The stories people had and the adversity they have faced throughout their life made me quickly realize that I am beyond lucky to be surrounded by such strong believers who put God at the center of everything they do. This activity helped put things into perspective for me, as I began to realize how much God works in our lives to challenge us, but to also bring us out of those hard times as better people. After a long time of prayer and loving on one another, I felt so much closer to everyone around me.

All of the staff and counselors have arrived in Holland Michigan and we have spent the afternoon preparing for the campers to arrive tomorrow. I am getting so excited to meet and interact with so many athletes as we get to train, learn, and grow together. I am already seeing God work in so many ways as the staff members and counselors have been so open and honest with one another. All the preparation for the next week has been coming together nicely, and I know we are all eagerly awaiting the camper’s arrival tomorrow. I can’t wait to watch God’s love multiply over these few days. Stay tuned for more updates as we kick off TUFF Camp 2018!

Jordyn, for the team

Tuff - Training U Faster and Further

Early July in Holland, MI is a special time.

This is my fourth year as a counselor at TUFF Camp, and that means I have officially been a TUFF Camp Counselor for more years than a camper. In other words, I’m getting old. 

I first came to camp as a rising Sophomore at Mason (OH) High School in July of 2011. I identify this week as when I truly decided to start following Jesus with my life.

Everything that came after was quite different.

Sport and faith have been intersected in my life since my first week of TUFF. My community in which to share and experience the Gospel has almost always been tied to my time in athletics, specifically with my time in Cross-Country/Track and Field. I have ministered to my teammates, as well as been discipled and mentored by them.

I went to camp two more years, in 2012 and 2013, and then went on to continue my athletic career at Lipscomb University in Nashville, TN. I spent the summer of 2014 in South Africa with Athletes in Action, and then returned to TUFF Camp as a counselor in July of 2015.

Coming back and pouring into the place where I experienced God so clearly was really an incredible experience. Being on the other side as a counselor and helping show the students around me Jesus was such a privilege. It was also amazing to really compare how far I’d grown in all those years, as well as relate to the high schoolers, having been in there exact shoes not so long ago.

More than anything, I was amazed at how not put together camp was behind the scenes. There weren’t long board room meetings or super tight rules or even an incredibly detailed plan. We didn’t even have a time schedule until recently. I’m not joking. 

The counselors and leaders themselves though, they were actually really normal people. I remembered my counselors being superhuman in my eyes. I started to think maybe we were just a bad batch. 

But I was a counselor in 2016 and 2017 as well, and every year now, still the same thing. Just a bunch of normal, broken people running the show.

I talk about TUFF Camp a lot. I tell people it’s the best week of the year for me and that I might actually cry if I ever miss it.

I think what makes TUFF such a special place is that it’s really not that special, when you really look at it. There is some honest planning and organization, excellent training and advice, and an unhealthily large amount of fun, to be sure. 

But not much changes year to year. We are doing essentially the same things this year that we were doing way back in 2011. Holland, MI is great, but it’s not like we’re staying at a resort. There are no really expensive and pretty good speakers. The food is college cafeteria food. The production value is incredibly low. There aren’t even fancy lights and fog machines (As a youth pastor, this is still the only week of camp I’ve been to without fancy lights and fog machines. I don’t get it.)

That’s why it’s the best week of the year. We don’t work really hard to make it amazing. We work really hard to make space for God to work, and then get out of the way. 

We know everyone is going to have fun, and that’s great. 

We know everyone is going to get good training in and learn about their sport, and that’s great. 

We know everyone is going to go home really tired after having an absolutely loaded week, and that’s great.

But if everyone walks away from TUFF knowing God more and wanting God more, that’s perfection.

I’m returning again in 2018. We’ve done a good amount of planning, for TUFF Camp standards. But we’ve done a lot more praying, and hoping.

Here’s to another week nobody will want to end.

Lucas, for the team