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Local Editorials

It’s a Summer Games thing

This week could be compared to an emotional roller coaster, but I am happy to say it is Thursday, and the week is almost done.

Before I get into today’s Hometown Kid, I wanted to take a moment to remember the man, who gave me a shot as a freelance writer. Pete Hussmann took a chance on me right of high school to be a freelance writer for the Newton Daily News, writing for the freshman, sophomore and junior varsity football teams. I will be forever thankful for the opportunity he gave me.

Pete is one of those guys who, no matter if you loved him, hated him or just knew him, you couldn’t doubt his passion and the legacy he built during his career. He will never be forgotten as a philanprotrist, journalist and man of the community of Newton.

In 2007, I was invited by my friend Sam Gudka to be a part of the staff at Summer Games University. I went to the staff retreat in Marion. I called Sam to see where she was and, come to find out, she wasn’t going to be able to make it.

I was greeted by the Marion United Methodist Church Pastor Mike Morgan. The first activity brought the guys into one room, with Morgan giving us a challenge to go in and find out everything we could about our female co-counselors.

We entered the room, and most guys focused on talking with individual girls. I used the strategy of talking with multiple girls at one time. I rotated conversations, and, at the end of 30 minutes, Morgan brought all the guys up front and told us to tell all the facts we found out about the girls. After about 10 minutes of talking, I claimed victory in the game.

This impressed most, yet wasn’t the highlight of my night. Later on, we signed up for satellite camps, which is the sport or activity the campers sign up for to learn throughout the week. I kept wanting to stick with going last. In the end, the only two satellites left were dance and swimming. I was wearing my “Famous” Newton Senior High School Kickstand shirt underneath a button up.

I chose dance, and instantly the room went quiet. I was asked if I was sure. Doug Cloven, one of the youth pastors, told me to talk with him if I changed my mind. It was later disclosed, as Cloven and I became friends, he was near positive I wasn’t going to make it through the week comfortably.

The night before camp, we gathered in the auditorium. A tall lanky man came walking up on stage. He told a story of a game-winning touchdown scored during the state championship in 1980. Instantly, I perked up. It was Craig Peters. I remember hearing stories about him from my football coaches on how he was one of the hardest-working athletes of his era.

The conversation left me wondering how could a rough and tough athlete become such a soft-hearted man with a passion for Jesus. It was at that point I realized I was called to be in this room at this moment. I talked with him after and instantly connected on the days of glory. I remember him praying for me to have the passion I had running onto the field every Friday night during my high school years.

The first day of satellites, I remember walking into the gym, waiting for the campers who were participating in dance and wearing my Kickstands Dance team shirt. The campers assembled with one question: Could the only guy in the room actually dance? An interesting fact about the dance satellite: About 40 percent of the girls were from Linn Mar High School in Marion. The Linn Mar dance team are regular competitors at the National Dance Competition in Orlando. I was unaware of this, so, needless to say, I was just a little out of my league.

I spent all of my free time during the camp counting off the moves, making sure I could keep count. Thursday was the big day of camp, when the satellites were put on display to see what they had been up to all week. It was amazing how, by the end of the week, I had the friendship and the respect of those involved with the dance satellite.

Being a camp counselor at Summer Games University is unlike any other camp because you become a part of a family. The idea of Summer Games University is entering into a relationship with Jesus. In the end, it’s about fentering into relationships with those around you. It’s been amazing to see how my “kids” have evolved and are taking passion in their skills and careers. I don’t get many reminders outside of the Facebook feed or watching Iowa State on the television.

I remember talking with Craig about the Summer Games. We talked about how we couldn’t imagine what our lives would be like without Summer Games. It goes without saying,

Summer Games has changed in the past 35 years, but one thing remains the same. It’s a secret among those who have experienced Summer Games: It’s about being a part of a family.

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