Alumni Events

Horses, Kids, and Christ

Peter Martin September 12, 2019
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TeenPact Leadership Schools, in conjunction with the Jimmy Brazell Foundation, presented the Eighth Annual Jimmy Brazell Impact Scholarship First Place Award to TeenPact student Katie Johnson from Oregon.


Read her award-winning essay below, written in response to the topic question, “How have you impacted the world or your community through servant-minded, Christ-like love?”

The summer before my freshman year, I decided that I did not want to be involved in high school sports but wanted to be a part of a community service or ministry. My mother encouraged me to look into areas that I was passionate about and either join in some service projects that were already established or possibly create my own. I have always been passionate about two seemingly unrelated things—kids and horses. These two interests, combined with my heart for Christian ministry, led me to the idea of a Christian horse camp for kids. 


I have always been passionate about two seemingly unrelated things—kids and horses.


My idea needed quite a bit of refining. What type of camp? A camp for girls, boys, or both? What age of kids? Kids from the country or city? What was my ultimate goal? It seemed truly overwhelming at first, but with my mom’s help I was able to narrow my idea down to an gospel-centered residential horse camp for a dozen foster girls, ages 9-12, from urban areas of Oregon. With the help of a generous attorney, I established a non-profit called Calvary Horse Camp. My vision for the camp came from my 3-year attendance at TeenPact and Worldview Academy. I wanted it to be similar in many aspects including teen leaders, rendezvous, worship, and speakers but include horse activities as well.  


So by January 2018, I had a specific idea, an organization name, non profit status, and a vision. Then the real work began! The subsequent months would involve:

Although we started planning in January of 2018, by May I felt so overwhelmed with all that remained to be done that I seriously doubted that it would all come together in time. However, by the grace of God and my mother’s wise counsel, it all did come together just in time for the horse camp to begin.


Eleven foster girls attended Calvary Horse Camp in July of 2018. Very few of them had ever been on a horse before coming to camp. On the first evening of camp, each girl was assigned a horse that was to be “hers” to care for and ride for the week. 


Each day of the camp followed a similar pattern. In the morning Pastor Keith would come to the staff room and pray with the team. The campers would have quiet time and breakfast before heading down to the fairgrounds to ride. After riding lessons, we returned to the church, to eat lunch, listen to the Christian speaker, and gather for small group discussions. 


The afternoon included activities such as games in the park, swimming, horse movies, and fun field trips to local one-of-a-kind places. Every afternoon Pastor Keith would come again and meet with our staff to pray. The girls would shower and get ready for dinner, which was followed by a second speaker session, worship, and an evening activity which usually involved cleaning horse pens, watering, and feeding. 

Before bed, the staff would gather the girls in small groups for “rendezvous”. We would talk about how the day went and what they learned from the speaker, share a favorite passage from the Bible, eat snacks, play a short quiet game together and pray. 


I was amazed at how many people were willing to help! Over thirty-five people volunteered their time during the week of camp, and many more helped with fundraising, planning, advertising, and prayer. It really inspired me to see God’s handiwork in every little detail. There were so many things that might have prevented the camp from happening, but each time a problem arose I clearly saw God working out a solution.  The Christian women who chaperoned at the camp inspired and encouraged me by not only guiding and encouraging the campers, but also discipling the teen staffers. They had so much wisdom to offer and they were willing to share it, which positively impacted many lives. 


Overall, I was grateful to see that I really could make a difference in the campers’ lives. About half of the girls attending were Christians, while the other half were either not aware of the Good News, or not sure what to do with it. The Gospel was clearly presented by our speaker for the first time for some of the girls attending. I do not know if anyone officially came to Christ during the week, but I do know that many of the girls returned to their foster homes touched if not changed by the discipleship they received at camp. One of the girls, who we nicknamed Speedy, asked me to continue to send her encouraging verses and Bible passages. I am proud of her for continuing her daily devotional. We are blessed to have six of last year’s campers returning for the 2019 camp. I am thankful to my family for their support of me and my project. Most of all, I am thankful to God for everything He did to keep things on track. 


We may never know the full impact of Calvary Horse Camp on the lives of these girls, but the impact on my life has been a new understanding that I really can make a difference when I give my all, that much can be accomplished when God’s people work together, and that God can make a way when there seems no way.


To learn more about Calvary Horse Camp, go to


About the Author

Peter Martin

Peter Martin grew up in Minnesota before moving to California for college where he met the sunshine of his life—Lydia. While working for a… Read More