In a peaceful, colorful, pristine valley near Linden, Tenn., the crisp cool morning with thick fog and cracking campfires is pierced with the sounds of an awaking camp filled with over 8-900 excited boys, their leaders and parents.
They come from as far away as Knoxville and Columbus, Miss. They are Royal Ambassadors (grades 1-6) and Challengers (grades 7-12) — both Southern Baptist Church-based, missions emphasizing programs for boys.
They gather on the banks of the Buffalo River at the “Tennessee Linden Valley Baptist Conference Center” every October for the Royal Ambassador Camp-O-Ree (RAC) to challenge and be challenged in various skills such as Bible Drills and storytelling (stories told on missionary subjects). They also visit with 20 or so Southern Baptist missionaries from all over the globe who have gathered here for this special occasion.
The boys compete in various campcraft and interest activities such as RA Race Cars, Zip Line, High-Ropes course, Knot Tying, “Survival of Fittest” course, Log Saw, Compass and “Mission Quest.” “Mission Quest” is an activity much like a scavenger hunt except the helps from station to station are Biblically based with many unique creative stations along the way.
Participation provides opportunities for boys to develop Christian character through missions involvement, commitment to virtues such as Loyalty, Friendship, Responsibility, Courage, Honesty, Faith, Compassion, Perseverance and Teamwork. Countless lives have been changed through the RAC and RAs.
Many Southern Baptist Pastors and ministers can trace their call to ministry to their Royal Ambassador experiences thus fulfilling the guiding principle for the Royal Ambassador leaders: “Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it” (Proverbs 22:6 NIV).
Their motto: “We are Ambassadors for Christ.” (2 Corinthians 5:20
Herschel Wells is a retired West Tennessee Coordinator for Tennessee Royal Ambassadors, life long Memphian and former employee of the Southern Baptist Convention.