According to www.winshape.org, "WinShape Camps exists because S. Truett Cathy, founder of Chick-fil-A, wanted to impact the lives of children. Period. He wanted to create a unique camp experience that challenges the body and nourishes the soul. ... Mr. Cathy was moved by his passion for kids and for Christ, and his vision became a reality in 1985 with the very first WinShape Camp for Boys. Two years later, the first Girls program came to WinShape Camps. Since that time, thousands of campers have enjoyed 'the summer of a lifetime' at WinShape Camps.
"In 2007, WinShape Camps partnered with Connect Ministries to help take the WinShape Camps experience to communities all over the nation through the WinShape Camps for Communities day camp program. WinShape Camps for Communities combines sports, recreation, arts, [Bible] study and worship into an unforgettable week in local churches and communities. All of WinShape Camps programs are about providing a safe place that allows kids to have fun and learn life-skills that will influence them, their families and their communities for years to come."
Among its other attributes, Lisa Bandy, director of children's ministry for Tabernacle Baptist Church, was delighted that the WinShape Camps are geared toward younger children.
"I became acquainted with the camp last summer," she said. "I had heard about the WinShape Camps for years and just in the last five years they started doing the day camps where a team of college and seminary students goes around to different cities and does these camps. Before and they still do have the resident camps up at Berry at the WinShape property.
"I was interested in it because I felt like it was something different for our community and it's for first- through sixth-graders. All the camps that we have been going to start with older children. So this was an opportunity for younger children. The WinShape philosophy is that there are a lot of people in the community who might not send their child to an overnight camp, especially younger children, but who would participate in a day camp. So they've taken the whole camp experience and transformed it into a day camp where there will be worship times and Bible study and small group recreation."
During the day camp, participants also will learn various skills ranging from basketball and cheerleading to dance and digital photography. Upon registering at www.winshapecamps.org, youth will choose five skill options from a list of 19 and they will be assigned to three of their top selections.
"We're called the host church," Bandy said. "We pay the host fee to bring the camp here. But our facility is not such that we can have the camp on our campus. We don't have a gym. We don't have a playing field. So we partnered with Trinity so that we can use their facility. So they're providing the facility and we're providing the camp. ... They're interested in it also just as a way to reach out to families and kids. ...
"It is [the first one in Bartow]," she said, referring to WinShape Camps for Communities. "That's one of the reasons they were glad to come here. They started out small. Last year they had 40-something camps. This summer, they've got 63 around the Southeast. But they have over 100 churches on the waiting list wanting to bring the WinShape Camp to their town. So it's become a big deal."
With the camp limited to 500 participants, area residents are encouraged to register as soon as possible at www.winshapecamps.org. With entry fees set at $184, Bandy is reaching out to business and community leaders to sponsor scholarships for children who cannot afford the cost. Along with contacting her at Tabernacle Baptist Church, 770-382-1977, people wanting to donate funds can participate in Chick-fil-A's spirit day on March 26.
"[During the camp] we will have a Chick-fil-A Friday Family Fun Day," said Elizabeth Womack, restaurant marketing director for Chick-fil-A, 115 Cherokee Place in Cartersville. "We will provide lunch for all the campers and their families. We will have the cow there. We will have games and inflatables. That's the day where we really sponsor the day but we will have a presence all week. ... Chick-fil-A is very involved.
"We sponsored a kick-off luncheon, where people in the community came. March 26, we will have a spirit day here at the store. If you come in and mention that you're here to help WinShape Camp, then we will give a percentage back for scholarships. Truett Cathy started [WinShape Camps]. So we're just real excited to be a part of something that's totally new in the community, that's for the whole community. It's just a way we feel like we can give back to our community."