Students organize sports camp for children in Africa

Somerset senior John Wright Polk is one of eight WKU students who organized a summer trip to do a sports camp in Cameroon, Africa. The trip is completely self-organized and was paid for partly by selling bracelets with Matthew 28:19-20 inscribed on them. The group will leave June 12 and return June 29.

Zirconia Alleyne

Somerset senior John Wright Polk never imagined that an impromptu luncheon in his kitchen with an African priest would land him on a mission trip to Cameroon, Africa.

“My mom’s really spontaneous and just invited them over after church, even though we didn’t have anything prepared,” Polk said.

During casual conversation, the priest’s wife, Clemence, began talking about an orphanage, The Good Shepherd Children’s Home, which she worked with overseas.

Sister Jane Mankaa, nicknamed “The Good Mother of Abangoh,” started the home to take in orphaned children who have lost their parents to the AIDS epidemic.

Polk said he had always been interested in missionary work overseas, but never had the opportunity.

After Clemence heard that he played sports, she mentioned the idea of having a sports camp for the children.

After fundraising since August, Polk and eight other WKU students will travel to Africa in June to lead Christian Athletes Making Peace 4 Cameroon (C.A.M.P. 4 Cameroon).

The camp will incorporate Bible studies and teach soccer, whiffle ball, kick ball, flag football and ultimate Frisbee to boys and girls from ages 6-18, Polk said.

Polk knew he couldn’t do the camp alone, so he pitched the idea to guys who attended the Bible study group at his house.

Several of his fraternity brothers and friends jumped on board.

Louisville senior Corey Ogburn, Polk’s roommate, had done two mission trips to Honduras when he was in high school.

Ogburn said the feeling of helping someone else is hard to describe.

“I’m sure I got more out of it than the people I helped in Honduras,” he said.

Elizabethtown senior Clay Goodman had never flown or been out of the country when Polk mentioned the idea.

Goodman said he had no concerns about getting involved.

“I’m really going with an open mind,” he said.

After Polk established a team, the guys started fundraising for the trip.

The trip will cost $8,000, which includes traveling and accommodation fees, food, transportation and sports equipment for the campers.

“Every little bit helps,” Polk said. “I couldn’t even tell you everybody that’s helped us out along the way.”

The group organized a concert at the Sigma Chi house, wrote letters to family and friends, made sorority boxes for change, sold C.A.M.P. 4 Cameroon bracelets and received church donations.

“I know I sent out like 75 letters to people I know,” Ogburn said.

In June, the group will fly into Douala to host a two-week C.A.M.P. 4 Cameroon.

They will also travel to Bamenda, Bawock and Tiko.

Polk said he wanted to base the camp on the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, of which he is a member.

“It’s always great because whether you’re a Christian or not, everyone can play sports together,” Polk said.

Each camper will get a Bible, a camp T-shirt and equipment to keep after the camp is over.

Goodman said sports are something they can do to keep their minds off the stress of their lives.

“People need something to boost their spirits,” he said. “What better way than God and sports?”