Royal Rangers celebrate 50th anniversary
Royal Rangers celebrated its 50th anniversary during its 10th quadrennial Royal Rangers Camporama
at the Royal Rangers campground in Eagle Rock from July 9 through July 13.
Over 5,200 campers attended the event, which was highlighted by a variety of activities ranging from frontier living to technological gamers.
"Royal Rangers is a mentoring program training boys to be men," said John Hicks, national programs coordinator who has been involved in Royal Rangers since 1975. "We provide Christ-like character formation in a camp setting. The kids enjoy a variety of activities throughout the day, and in the evening, we meet at the amphitheater for evening services and worship."
Activities include high ropes, soccer, football, rappelling, shooting ranges for trap, rifles, archery, water sports and a frontier camp to teach younger campers life skills of the frontiersmen.
Each geographical region of the nation is represented with a frontier skill, so campers are not only learning about the way their forefathers survived, but a bit of history about their geographical history.
"Campers can choose a character representing their geographical area, such as a mountain man or frontiersman, and develop a skill, such as tomahawk throwing, flint knapping or making knives. The frontier village is geared to keep older campers engaged in learning a skill, so they will continue to come back and mentor to younger campers."
The camp itself is set up in regional sections, so campers and their adult leaders can socialize, make new friends and mingle with others from neighboring states.
"We have campers set up in districts and regions," Hicks said. "Missouri is part of the Gulf Region, which encompasses Louisiana, Arkansas, Tennessee and Mississippi as well as Missouri."
Each district and region designs their own hat pins unique to their area to trade with other campers.
"Pin trading is a big thing here at camp," Hicks said.
There are also shirt or vest patches and other memorabilia that campers can purchase at the general store, located on the midway of the campgrounds.
"We have 1,500 acres here at the campground," Hicks continued. "There are wi-fi hot spots, charging stations for cell phones and Internet access available to campers and adult youth leaders. We have several first aid stations set up throughout the camp and a number of misting tents to keep the boys cool."
The majority of campers are young men and boys, but some areas, especially international clubs such as Russia and Germany, allow young women into their Royal Rangers program. Other international group represented at this year's Camporama included Australia, Indonesia and the Caribbean Islands.
"This is more than just a camping event," Hicks said. "This is an opportunity to help shape these young campers into the Godly husbands, fathers and community leaders they will grow to be."