National Camporama attracts over 5,000 youngsters to area each summer
By Lindsay Reed
National Royal Rangers, an international Christian program, held National Camporama at Camp Eagle Rock from July 17 through July 21.
"This is the most prominent Royal Ranger event in the nation," said John Hicks, Royal Rangers National Ministries publications and chartering coordinator. "The main purpose of this event is to reach boys for Christ and provide them with a level of activity to minister to them and change their lives."
The Camporama, which is designed for young men between the ages of 12 and 14 years, is a camping event where men from across the nation congregate to enjoy a variety of outdoor activities and competitions. The event is held once every four years.
National camping activities include archery, air rifle, pinewood derby races, rock climbing, rappelling, BMX and mountain bike trails, high ropes course, hot air balloon rides and the Royal Ranger International "Ranger Cup" soccer competition.
"This is the only National Royal Rangers campground," said Hicks. "We have close to 5,000 campers each time the event is held. Men, boys and ladies have come from across the country and Germany, Sweden, Australia, Russia and Mexico to participate in the event."
The National Camporama also includes district activities, like water balloon slingshot, jump houses and basketball shoots. District activities are set up and maintained by individual Royal Ranger districts. Over 40 districts participated in the 2006 Camporama.
Each Camporama day is concluded with an evening spiritual rally at the Stutsman Amphitheater, which can accommodate 10,000 individuals.
Guest speakers at this year's Camporama included: Tom Green, Honor Bound Men's Ministries national director; Randy Ruiz, national evangelist and former Royal Ranger; Dave Roever, national evangelist and Vietnam veteran; and Terry Rayburn, Peninsular Florida District of the Assemblies of God district superintendent.
"Our number one goals are outstanding counselor sessions each evening, leading boys to Christ and building Godly men," said Richard Mariott, Royal Rangers national commander. "Royal Rangers are role models. Christian men are the best examples young men can have.
"Royal Ranger commanders will go back to the churches and be with the young men at their weekly program," said Mariott. "We hope the Royal Rangers build relationships with these young men to let them know they can always go to their commander with any problem."
During their week at the National Camporama, participants also spend time learning about frontiersman skills at the Frontier Camping Fellowship (FCF) Village.
FCF is a special elite organization of Royal Ranger members who practice extra leadership skills and complete special service projects within communities. FCF is designed to honor the frontiersmen's courage, determination and commitment, said Hicks.
Frontiersmen demonstrated fur trading, wood carving, black smith skills and other trades during the Camporama event. Campers were able to purchase many souvenir products from booths in the FCF Village.
Campers were also able to purchase other Camporama memorabilia at the Camporama Products Store and spend time trading patches and pins on Trader's Row.
"We want to reach, teach and keep boys for life," said Hicks. "We hope the National Camporama helps them grow mentally, physically, spiritually and socially."
National Camporama has been held since the early 1970s. A museum commemorating past Camporamas, the early years of the Royal Rangers and the FCF was set up in the Johnnie Barnes Camp Lodge.
The museum featured historical curriculum materials, uniforms, past High Adventure magazine editions and frontiersmen antiques.
National Camporama is sponsored by Daisy, Matthews Solocam, NADA, Light for the Lost, Convoy of Hope, National Rifle Association, CCI Solutions, BGMC, United Bowhunters of Missouri, Sanyo, TPA Hobby Center, Jones Brother Art Works, Silver Dollar City, Celebration City, White Water and many other southwest Missouri businesses.
Camp Eagle Rock can be reserved and rented by organizations for family reunions, group activities and other events thoughout the year. Various facilities are available on the 15,000 acre campground.
For more information, call 417-862-2781 or visit the Eagle Rock Camp website at eaglerockcampground.ag.org.