A Mixed Bag

By Heather Reichle

Located in the ski resort town of Mammoth Lakes, Calif., The Station has as its goal to change lives through action sports.

But the activities provided -- snowboarding, skiing, skateboarding, rock climbing and mountain biking -- aren’t those one might typically think of at camp.

Founded by Pete and Rachel Bowman in 2008, the non-profit youth camp offers programs to attract three main groups: extreme-sports enthusiasts, youth-ministry groups and inner-city kids.

“I had a dream in my heart to someday have my own camp,” says Rachel Bowman. “So we did the research, and decided to go for it.”

Although most of the camp sessions target junior-high and high-school students, some programs are broad enough to include college students, while summer day camps accommodate campers 7 to 12 years old.

“We don’t ever want to be a mega camp; we want to remain small so we can continue to really get to know the kids,” she adds. “Our primary focus will always be to get kids out enjoying the wilderness and be changed forever.”

Chilly Sports
“Our mission is for kids to not sit around much while at camp,” Bowman relates. “We want them going all day long out in the wilderness.”

Those who take advantage of the winter months in the snowboarding and skiing programs may sometimes share the slopes with professionals.

“Mammoth Lakes is home to a lot of professional athletes,” Bowman says. “They join our programs and help coach the kids while mentoring them at the same time.”

Another asset is that participants range in skill levels from those campers who have never strapped on a pair of skis to those who are ready to learn extreme moves.

“Some of these kids are never exposed to snow and the mountains,” Bowman says. “Our main goal with them is just to get them down the hill by the end of the day, and for them to leave our camp feeling they have accomplished something.”

Well-Rounded Programming
Meanwhile, programming for ministry camps offers more than just outdoor sports; it connects kids with The Station’s core values -- God’s presence, the experience, healing and equipping.

Group leaders are able to customize a camp session based on their own goals. Once The Station team determines those goals, a program is selected based on needs as well as cost.

In addition to outdoor activities, special guests are invited to speak with campers. These range from professional athletes sharing their experiences in the industry to Christian bands performing concerts.

Some of the programs provide opportunities for underprivileged children from the inner-city.

Making It Possible
Because the camp appeals to a wide demographic, it is important to the Bowmans that attending camp is possible -- no matter the financial situation. For this reason, they established a scholarship fund that is available to help supplement the cost.

“I myself was a scholarship recipient as a child,” Bowman says. “I felt compelled to offer the same opportunity to kids who were interested in attending our camp too.”

Whether it’s a summer, fall or winter camp, The Station also is on hand to provide kayaking, hiking, backpacking, fishing and a number of other “camp” activities. For the Bowmans, it’s not the activity, but the overall experience they want kids to connect with.

“We want them to leave knowing they can accomplish great things.”

For more information, visit www.thestationcamp.com .

Heather Reichle is a freelance writer living in Columbus, Ohio. She can be reached via e-mail at HReichle28@yahoo.com.