Thirty-eight adult and young men went into a Texas “wilderness” in June to learn leadership skills for use this summer and throughout life, said Savion Lee, state Royal Ambassadors coordinator

The five-day RAs Leadership Training Camp instructed 15 teenagers who will serve as staffers and share the Gospel at varied camps around the state this summer. It also gave adult men experience in Campcraft and backpacking. While still other adults provided meals and support functions.

“I think every man who comes through that gate and comes to LTC is because God sent him here for a purpose,” said Juan Sanchez (right), of Uvalde. “It’s just awesome to see these men come in here, these young men being transformed and ready to serve all over Texas. It’s just a privilege to be able to talk to them and teach them what we know.”

LTC is held in the wilderness portion of Latham Springs Camp and Retreat Center south of Dallas-Fort Worth. Participants sleep in tents, make their own meals and learn from their unit leaders.

The camp is described in TBM materials as a “structured wilderness camp to increase the knowledge and skills of men and young men under the leadership of Christ.” LTC teaches campcraft and skills needed to “live outdoors safely and comfortably.” It’s for young men who have finished the seventh grade and male leaders of RAs and Challengers.

John Clayton (left), of Houston, has been coming to LTC since about 1980. He keeps returning to see the “spiritual growth, change of attitude” during the days of camping and instruction. He sees it in both the young men and in himself.

Mike Wade (below) of Waxahachie, has been coming to LTC for years as well. “It’s been a great opportunity to strengthen my faith through my friends, and I have some really great fellowship and some skills that I didn’t even know existed,” he said. “Every year is different, of course, but my passion is RAs, Challengers and honing my skills here as iron sharpens iron, here with other men that believe like I do. … You learn something every year from one of the gentlemen that are here.”

John LaNoue (red hat above and below), one of TBM’s original disaster relief leaders, spoke to the men and boys. His message: “Follow God. Pray every day for God’s will to be done that day.”

For the 15 teenage staffers, LaNoue said later, their biggest challenge for the summer will be moving from being a follower to being a leader. “All these years they’ve been the followers first. And they’re going to have to make these adjustments to leadership, to being who they are trying to get the others to become, as they have become. It’s going to be a constant prayer battle for them every day because Satan hates what you’re doing.”

Sanchez said churches are dying “because we don’t make leaders, and this is a great place to start.” The training will enable those at LTC to lead others to Christ and, in their churches, “to do greater and bigger things that God has for us to do. This is the place to come to be able to do that. That’s why I keep coming every year.”