Wayland's recruiting teams on the road for the 20th year

Miles away from the high plains of Texas, 18 young people have risen early in the morning, pulled on rugged clothing and sturdy shoes for the day ahead. Packed with games, activities and recreation, the day is far from relaxing, and these students won't see their bunks again likely until later into the evening.

It's a summer marked by long days, short nights and travel across Texas, New Mexico and into Colorado, all in the name of reaching students and having fun. Such is the life of the three recruiting teams from Wayland Baptist University: Rec teams and Rejoice.

Those in charge - namely WBU Admissions Director Shawn Thomas, who oversees the groups and sets their schedules each summer - know such a venture can be difficult, expensive and downright grueling. But each summer, Wayland students file in for applications to serve on one of the teams.

This summer marks the 20th year recruiting teams of this nature have served Wayland in the field. The practice first started in 1982, when musical ensemble Rejoice hit the road, performing primarily in churches around the state and region. Two other musical groups - His Brass and Tribute - also started touring that summer, again following the church circuit. A few years later, the groups began visiting church camps, serving as worship leaders and doing some recreation at the camps.

By the late 1980s, only Rejoice was still touring, with the other two groups gone by the wayside. But a new group was now on the road: Rec Team. Designed specifically to provide recreation services at camps, rec teams began visiting state encampments and those in New Mexico as a recruiting arm of the admissions office at Wayland.

"The initial reason for these teams was to be recruitment and ministry teams, and that's the same reason we still do it today," said Thomas. "We continue to do it because of the impact on students we encounter, both spiritually and in relationships that possibly might lead to recruiting contacts."

Whatever the formula, it obviously is working. New students to Wayland site encounters with WBU teams - sometimes many years earlier - as having an impact on their decision to come to the university. Even Thomas recalls having a Rejoice team at camp during his youth days.

Now nearly three-quarters of the way through their summer tour, the teams have seen lots of travel already. Rejoice will spend six of their ten weeks at Highland Lakes, a Baptist camp near Austin, also traveling to Sivells and Inlow camps in New Mexico, Latham Springs in Aquilla and Big Country in Lueders. The two rec teams have also been to Highland Lakes, and will make appearances at Chaparral in Iowa Park, Circle Six in Stanton, Alto Frio in Leakey, Inlow, Big Country, and Plains Baptist Assembly in Floydada. A few Colorado camps are also on the circuit.

A reunion of those who have participated over the years in one of Wayland's recruiting teams is planned for homecoming 2002, set for Nov. 22-23. Details are available by calling alumni director Joe Provence at (806) 291-3600