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Abiding Grace soccer camp helps kids Go for the Gold
Campers chase after a coach during a game at the Abiding Grace soccer camp. Pictured from left to right: Gabe Kessler, Jeremy Swarmer, Jordan Zheng, Taylon Johnson, Demarte Reid, and Coach Seth Weide - photo by Mariya Lewter

During the exciting summer of soccer we’ve had this year, Abiding Grace Lutheran Church got involved by hosting a soccer camp of its own.

The camp, which is in its ninth year, was hosted at the church’s Covington campus at 5500, Hwy. 212 and coached by Matt Scharf of the Martin Luther College Knights in New Ulm, Minnesota. The camp took place July 11-15 from 9 a.m. to noon and featured soccer drills, daily devotions and games.

“We do this every year, because we want to give the kids in the community something to do and make them feel comfortable coming to church,” said Pastor Jon Scharf.

With approximately 100 kids signed up, the soccer camp focused on one central theme.

“Because it’s the Olympic year, our theme is “Go for the Gold,’” Scharf said. “The theme verse is from Revelation and says, ‘Be faithful even to the point of death and I will give you the crown of life.’ We want to talk about faithfulness and staying true to God and trusting in Him, and realize that He’s going to help us overcome every obstacle.”

Each morning, the camp opens up with a devotion and campers are told what the day’s soccer skill and bible story will be. Each day, they learn a different soccer skill as well as a different story about someone who overcame some obstacle by God’s power, said Scharf.

The camp is divided into five groups based on different ages, from 6- to 14-years-old, and each group rotates from soccer, snack time, bible story time and water breaks. On Monday, the campers focused on dribbling, then they learned passing on Tuesday, shooting on Wednesday and focused on teamwork on Thursday. On Friday, the older kids were divided into eight different teams and played in Olympic-style tournament games.

The bible stories for each day ranged from the David and Goliath to Jesus’ Resurrection, and each story was accompanied by a memory verse which is discussed during a bible lesson.

“One of the things I like about soccer camp is they get so hot and tired outside, then they come inside in the air conditioning and that’s where the bible story is, so they’re ready to listen and learn,” Scharf said jokingly. “We also get some good discussions with them, and then they come back out and sweat some more and have some more fun.”

The camp has served as a way for the church to stay involved with the kids in the community, as well as their parents.

“It gives us an opportunity to meet a whole lot of people in the community and let them have a good time learning soccer, but also have a great time learning the message of salvation through Jesus,” Scharf said. "That’s really the reason why we as a church are doing it. It’s a great opportunity to be a part of our community and help the parents in our community do their job of raising their kids and hopefully give them some good influence and fellowship with other kids.”

For more information about the camp and ways to register for next year, visit