Ultimate Training Camp, Behind the Lens!
Hello everyone! Wow how cool has God been?! Two weeks ago I was blessed with the privilege to be a second photographer to a phenomenal Minneapolis based photographer Mark Fierst, for a camp called Ultimate Training Camp put on by Athletes In Action. This week long camp holds a special spot in my heart. Back in when I played football for the Missouri Tigers in 2013 I was a camper myself! It was the first time I really learned how to use my faith in my sport. This camp was a completely life changing experience. My first Ultimate Training Camp was in Fort Collins, Colorado. It was where I truly allowed Christ to take control of my life. I learned so much about who I was and who God was. I went on to be a camper again in 2014 and an intern in the Twin Cities camp in 2015. That was me as a camper back in 2014! (Right at the end of the 20 hour competition period, I was exhausted!)
UTC is a Christian based athletic camp where collegiate athletes come from all over the United States to learn how to compete for the glory of God. This camp broke me down spiritually, mentally and physically. The camp starts out with learning principles in Christ and learning how to apply them in the game of volleyball. But that is when everything changes because at the end of the week there is the S.P.E.C.I.A.L. This is a 20 hour non stop competition period that completely challenges everything about you and your faith. Athletes compete in ultimate frisbee, tug of war, swimming relays, basketball games, a grueling hour long obstacle course, kick ball, running relays and finished off with an incredible mile long run up hill. By the end of it you are completely spent! Here is a link to my S.P.E.C.I.A.L back in 2014 to give you an idea of what these athletes went through: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BvMdeor1mbI
It was an incredible experience. This year I got the call to be one of the photographers and I could not have praised God more for such an amazing opportunity. I got to experience, behind the lens, these student athletes completely fall down in surrender to Christ. As they learned, some of them, for the first time what it meant to be a Christian Athlete. I was in awe at how these athletes gave it their all during the 20 hour competition period. There were tears, tired eyes, and defeated looks. But most importantly there was prayer, surrender, and fight. With every shot I took I saw the will of these athletes to give up their plans and live for God's. Chills. Every shot came with a new experience. Every shot came with a new feeling. But most importantly...every
shot came with a new life. World class athletes dropping to their knees, letting everything go. There were times when I wanted to just drop my camera and get on my knees and pray for these athletes, but I couldn't. I remember this exact photo to the right. I sat and watched as this athlete writhed in the pain of a cramp that would not let go. I wanted to stretch him out and pray for him. But instead I had to shoot...I had to capture. I had to humble myself. This was Christ's time with him. Documenting the exact moment when someone gave their all for Christ. Tears were rolling down my face during a few of these shots. I wanted to hold back my own emotions but at times I couldn't. Christ's power was rolling through the Ultimate Training Camp and He would not be stopped. Emotion poured out, love poured in, and Grace and healing covered all. Another picture that really captured my heart was this one below. When athletes were asked who wanted to give their lives to Christ and campers flooded the stage. It was another moment that was so overwhelming. Heaven began to look different.
There were plenty of fun times at this camp! The scavenger hunt and late night dance parties were the norm at Koch Commons at the University of St. Thomas campus all week! There were smiles and friendships forged that will last a lifetime. Using the talents that The Lord gave me to my fullest and a way that was glorifying to Him was one of the greatest feelings I ever had. Here are some shots from camp: Excitement, laughter, love, dancing and faith. All at the center stage. Right in front of The Lord :)
Hope you have a great day! -Nick John 3:16