Combining God and tennis

Kids enjoy learning a new sport and about religion
By: Matt Long
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Tennis can be a lot of fun and when you throw in a message about God, some kids can’t get enough. That was the case at last week’s Community Bible Church tennis camp held at Lembi Park. The camp, in its sixth year, had its highest turnout yet with 34 youth between first and fifth grade attending. Camp director Pat Ryan, also a tennis professional at Broadstone Racquet Club, was encouraged by the high turnout. “We could have had 50 but we had to turn some kids away,” Ryan said. “The camp has grown just by word of mouth and a lot of kids who come invite a friend. Only about a third of the kids have attended the camp before so there are a lot of new kids and most have never played before, which is good because we’re teaching the basics of the game.” Ryan and his staff of 10 taught the kids the fundamentals of tennis, the forehand, backhand and the serve and also played several games and had contests to add to the fun. There was also a daily 15-minute lesson about God that some kids enjoyed as much as the tennis. This is Rachel Fong’s fourth year of attending the camp. Her older brother was also there as a staff member. “The camp’s fun because you get to learn about tennis and about God,” Rachel said. The youngest staff member, Gianna Huckaby, 11, attended the camp for five years and is now teaching all she’s learned to the youngest kids at the camp. “When I was a student I loved the camp because I learned about God, got to connect with friends and also learned a sport,” Huckaby said. “Now it’s exciting to helping kids open their eyes to God. It’s also fun being a leader.” Always a proponent of tennis, Ryan is just glad to get the kids outdoors and being active. “I heard a statistic the other day that kids spend 50 to 60 hours a week in front of a TV or a computer,” Ryan said. “If that’s not a health care crisis I don’t know what is. We’re here teaching them a game that they can succeed at, have fun with and play the rest of their life.” Sara Howlett, 10, was attending the camp for the first time. “Even though I’ve played tennis before, this camp has been a lot of fun,” Howlett said. “I’m still having a good time even though I know the strokes.”