“Being around godly Christian men doing manly stuff provides a priceless example for them to emulate in their own lives as they see what real men look like, talk like and work like over the week we spend together,” Osteen said. “They are uncertain at first because they are out of their normal element but a swim in a hot spring and lots of good food and challenging stuff to do like white water rafting, repelling and hiking to the snow line with a pack on your back, it's a new experience for most of them.”
The camp began in 1986 when Osteen was a pastor of a church in Mount Pleasant. Osteen knew Paul Lindsey, who was a captain in the Houston Police Deptartment. Lindsey had 4 nephews and no children of his own and wanted to do something with his the nephews so he and Osteen decided to take them camping in New Mexico.
The trip to New Mexico started with eight boys and has now grown to over 60.
The location has changed as well and the boys travel in busses approximately 700 miles one-way, to Salida. Although the number of boys is growing, Osteen welcomes more.
“We welcome any guy who wants to go. We also work with the schools to try and give a special invitation to boys from homes with no man around,” Osteen said.
“We usually keep it to 20 to 28 men and boys a year. A four-to-one man-to-boy ratio is preferred. We've done a trip every year since ‘86 and Lindsey and some of the original eight boys, now men, still go with us and bring their own kids.”
The camp is designated for boys who have completed the third grade and up, younger if accompanied by an adult. The last 10 years, the boys have been hiking out of the Angel of Shavano group campsite near Salida. There are different activities each day. They repel at the Iron Gate campground near St. Elmo and white water raft on the Arkansas river. They also climb one of the many peaks in the area each year.
FBC saves a lot of money using the church vans and trailers for their trips and Osteen has accumulated 20 to 30 backpacks, many tents, cook stoves and other gear that he uses over and over each year. These items are loaned to the boys who do not have their own.
The actual cost of the camp is $275 a head. The estimated reduced price for this year is around $120 per boy $40 per man. The final cost is not yet available at this time.
To read the complete article, see the May 6 edition of the Gazette-News