Pilgrim Rest Baptist Church reaches youth through basketball

Published 4:20 pm Friday, July 24, 2015

When Pilgrim Rest Baptist Church pastor Robert White considered how to get the community’s youth involved, he thought back to one of his own passions as a child—the game of basketball.

That seed of an idea sprouted into the first Pilgrim Rest Baptist Church basketball camp, a three-day evening event meant to help the area’s youth develop skills on the basketball court and, more importantly, in life.

“We’re working purely on fundamentals, and we’re also giving them instruction on personal development,” White said.

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“We’re using basketball as a model for teaching personal development—teaching personality, teaching character and teaching good habits. And every time we’ve met, we’ve broken off into groups and talked about topics such as bullying, being the best that you can be, having a good work ethic and a good attitude.”

The camp, held at the old Greenville High School gym near the Butler County Board of Education, consisted of two smaller groups of older and younger participants, though both worked on key skills such as dribbling, rebounding and one-on-one defense.

A number of volunteers were on hand from the church, as well as local high school students and volunteers from the Dunbar Community Center.

In this way, White said that the collaborative community effort was the point all along.

“We just thank everybody who’s responsible for allowing us to use the facilities and the resources that were made available,” White added.  “We’ve had people to donate money for T-shirts, water, and some of the incidentals that we need.  When the community found out what we were doing, we had people coming out of the woodwork saying ‘how can we help?’

“We just want to give people a shot in the arm about what’s important, and our young people are the most important things in our lives, so we’ve just got to invest in them.”

White said that the inaugural camp’s success may pave the way for bigger events in the future.

“We’re using this as a pilot program—we’re going to go back, work out the kinks and see how we can make it bigger,” White said.

“We didn’t want a large crowd, so we limited our scale just so we could work on our organizational skills. Next year, we hope to do a three-week camp with having three three-day sessions.”