Trinity softball players Audrey Ricker and Makayla Otto met when they both joined the softball team their freshman years here at Trinity.
Now, the two are juniors, and their friendship has grown tremendously throughout the course of the three years they’ve known each other. What started as teammates turned into a friendship. And after spending a few days together over the summer at Adventure Camp, their friendship is even closer than ever.
The two volunteered at Pendleton Christian Church’s Adventure Camp, which is a Bible camp that runs from a Thursday to a Sunday. It started 10 years ago and has grown from just 25 campers to now over 300. The camp is made up of girls and boys that range from incoming sixth graders to incoming ninth graders.
Ricker volunteered with the camp previously, and this past summer, she convinced Otto to apply, as well.
“Last year was our first year being roommates, but she [Ricker] had pictures from it and would talk about it all the time,” Otto said. “I have never done a church camp before, but I ended up applying and I decided to do it.”
When they arrived at the camp on a Thursday, Ricker and Otto met with their co-leaders as well as the 27 seventh grade girls they would chaperone during the camp.
Once everyone settled into their tents, they started with group circles, where they were able to discuss the Bible, their faith and help each other discover more about themselves.
“We try to make it as fun and interactive as possible,” Ricker said. “We would sit there for two to three hours to get the encounter done. We do games, have discussions and do activities.”
The theme for the weekend was about identity, with Ricker and Otto helping the students figure out who they are through God’s eyes, and not that of society.
“One of the activities we did was we stamped their fingers and they painted their thumb print to show their uniqueness,” Ricker said. “Then they would write verses from the Bible that stood out to them in the finger prints. It was just little activities like that throughout the weekend.”
As the days went by, they took part in games, both with their group and with the entire camp. During these games, Ricker and Otto played with the girls to help keep them involved.
When playing the group games, each team can collect orbs. These orbs then get added up, and whichever team has the most by the end of the week wins. With the support from Ricker and Otto, their team, the Gold Team, was able to collect the most orbs throughout the weekend, beating out all of the other groups.
“I have been doing this for the last two years, and it’s such a big difference when you play with the kids,” Ricker said. “We won this year, and people don’t expect that from middle school girls. They just get so much more into it.”
But the camp was about so much more than just collecting orbs and doing group activities.
Throughout the week, the girls and the leaders participated in open conversations about their faith. The open dialogue helped others continue to grow, while giving others the opportunity to learn more about their relationship with faith.
Otto discovered more about hers, as well. She grew so much in her faith that she decided to participate in the baptisms at the end of the weekend. During that ceremony, Ricker performed Otto’s baptism and also did four others.
Getting baptized was something that Otto was considering, but after spending a weekend at the camp, she knew it was the right place and the right time, and that there was no one she would rather do it than Ricker.
“After the first day, I thought that I was going to get baptized here,” Otto said. “Watching all of the kids get baptized and how it made them feel comfortable with worshiping really impacted me. And it made it so much more impactful for her [Ricker] to do it because we are friends and she brought me there.”
Currently, Ricker and Otto are roommates at Trinity and both play on the softball team together. What was originally a close friendship between the two of them continues to grow. The experience they shared together made them both closer in their faith
“This was just one of those things that was really special for us,” Ricker said. “We were already very close about our personal lives, but now, this has made us closer and added a new layer to our friendship.”