Sport camps create a loving and active environment in First Nations communities

Aug 4, 2017

Dallas Williams, Director of Manitoba Athletes in Action Sports Camps, is passionate about people, sport and the Gospel. This summer, Williams has the opportunity to run basketball, volleyball, and multi-sport camps in his home province.

“It is not only Northern Manitoba where we do the program,” Williams explains. “It is virtually anywhere there are Native Reserves. For instance, just last week, we went to the Roseau Valley Reserve and created a lot of fun for the kids.”

This camp, which was held 100 km south of Winnipeg, was a one-day program for Williams and his fellow coaches to introduce themselves to the Reserve and create fun for the kids using sports. This summer, Williams’ team is made up of three student-coaches: Jacob Penner, Adrian Dyck, and Courtney Engel. All three coaches have attended Bible Colleges and, in Williams’ words, “are gentle people who love people.”

With their caring hearts and passion for sport, this team is all about loving kids and creating an active environment. In a typical day at camp, these coaches run gym classes during the day, give extra instruction in basketball and volleyball in the evening, and teach spiritual content in the evening.

When Williams sent a team up north to the Shamattawa Reserve in early May for a week-long camp, they got to work with approximately 200 youth during the day and 30 youth in the evening.

“[The team] was able to share the Gospel but also grow to love the kids and the teachers,” says Williams. “Administrators thought so highly of [the team] that they wanted them back in the summer.

“We ask people to have a relationship with Jesus, but first we are developing a relationship with the kids, and then it will sink in.”

On one memorable night during this camp, the team squared off with the local RCMP in a basketball game. A few of the townspeople came out to watch, and both the coaches and the RCMP loved the experience.

As fun and as impactful as these camps are for the people on Native Reserves, they do cost quite a bit of money, especially to fly coaches and supplies up north.

“Normally the flights are $1,050.00 per person,” Williams states. “We put a submission in and got a reduction in fees down to $736.00. So, praise God for that.”

WIlliams has also seen God move in big ways through the RCMP officers.

“We had to get bottled water into the Reserve, but the RCMP helped out by taking 100 bottles of water up in their plane for free! So, more answered prayer as anything beyond luggage requires extra fees.”

These answered prayers have been a huge encouragement for Williams, who sent a team of four back to this same Reserve in July. The team flew out on July 16th, ran a drop-in centre during the day, focused on developing the sports teams in the evenings, and flew out on July 22nd. Although a quick trip, it surely had a positive impact on the Reserve once again.

With this opportunity, Williams is most looking forward to “reconnecting with the kids, continuing to build relationships, and slowly imparting a Christian lifestyle.”

In addition to this camp, there are also 40 camps going on in Southern Manitoba throughout the summer, including multi-sport, volleyball, and basketball camps. These camps all provide a significant opportunity to share about Jesus, love people, and engage kids in the fun sport has to offer.

Williams, along with his team, “are just excited about how God has blessed the ministry so far and anticipating what He will do now.”

Written By: Destiny Kaus