Wayland rec teams focus on fun, recruiting during summer

Release Date: June 12, 2009    

By Adam Henthorn, PR intern

PLAINVIEW – Summer is here, and with it comes plans for many Wayland Baptist University students to vacation, find work, or simply take a break from the college life and relax at home. A handful, however, choose to spend their summer doing something that is important to them and important to others. These students choose to give back and attempt to make a difference in young lives.

“I joined Rec team because when I was going to junior high camp, Wayland students did my camp and they really made an impression,” said John Redig, a first-year rec team member from junior from League City. “I want to be able to give back that experience to other kids, if only for a week.”

This year’s rec teams – short for recreation teams – will be participating in and supervising a number of high school and junior high summer camps. While many think these students will simply play games for the summer, Vice President of Enrollment Management Dr. Claude Lusk assures otherwise.

“It has a three-fold purpose,” said Lusk, who took an active part in rec team as a student at WBU in the early 1980s.

The first aspect is what many would assume recreational teams do: have fun. After a week of training and orientation, rec teamers know many different ways of having fun and using games to teach a lesson. In the past, Lusk has given his rec teams a pair of objects, such as a pen and an envelope, and instructed them to create a game from scratch in ten minutes.

“It’s amazing what rec team folks have to be capable of,” said Lusk.

The second purpose is for recruitment. The rec teams are essentially an arm of the admissions office at Wayland.

“We fund [rec teams] because our target audience moves through these types of experiences,” Lusk explains, referring to the kids who attend summer camps each year and might be considering enrollment in a Christian college based on their background. “You recruit by being that guy or girl who can take that pen and envelope and make a game. You’re the ‘cool college kid.’”

Lusk encourages rec team members to start up conversations with the high school age campers that will lead to discussions about their plans for college and an interest in Wayland.

The third aspect, and perhaps the most important to the teams and to Lusk, is ministry. Lusk attempts to instill in his teams a desire to be spiritual examples for the campers they will be supervising.

“ Someone should be drawn to Wayland on how you are perceived. Someone should be drawn to Christ on how you live everyday,” Lusk said.

For the students, Lusk says rec team is beneficial because it teaches unity and lessons for the future.

“You are a team and you learn how to operate as a team. You see the same people everyday. When you travel with them, eat with them, and rec with them for ten weeks, you’re going to get sick of them,” said Lusk. “It teaches you the importance and the heartaches of families.”

“Rec team would be a good way to develop close relationships,” said WBU senior Andrew Pruitt, a former rec teamer from Plainview. “You make a lot of acquaintances in college, but rec team is a way to develop close friendships.”

Wayland’s commitment to rec teams began in the early 1980s. It originally started as two musical performance groups – an instrumental group known as His Brass and a vocal ensemble called Tribute. They were a recruitment arm and performed primarily at local churches. Eventually, His Brass was phased out and another student vocal group called Rejoice rose to take its place. The pair of singing groups went to perform at various youth camps in the region and, over the years, began leaning more toward recreation as the needs of camps changed.

“There isn’t a market to do music at youth camps anymore,” said Lusk, acknowledging the interest of camps in professional performers and groups that kids will relate to from media exposure.

Wayland’s present day rec teams are now primarily focused on recreation and its potential in ministry. Last year, 70 percent of the camps in which Wayland rec team members participated were youth camps, while another 20 percent were pre-teen and children’s camps. Over the past couple of years, rec teams have met needs at camps in Colorado, New Mexico, and Texas, and some even as far away as Florida and Missouri.

“My favorite thing about rec team was traveling,” recalls Pruitt. “I enjoyed not being in the same place all summer long!”