Experience a Summer
Like No Other with
Transforming Urban Youth for Christ
KAA Summer Camp
At Kids Across America (KAA), it is our mission to build Christian leaders by encouraging, equipping, and empowering urban youth and their mentors through camping and education.
Transformation Happens Here
We implement the Gospel of Jesus Christ into every sport and activity to set a foundation for the faith and build the next generation of leaders.
Engage in Sports and Urban Arts
We use sports and activities to build relationships that empower youth to transform their communities for Christ.
Bridge the Gap Between Culture and Christ
We are dedicated to remaining culturally relevant to enhance our camper’s experience and aid in their spiritual growth.
High Energy Fun & Fellowship
We offer a crazy-hype environment designed for our camper, where every day is fun and exciting!
Higher Ground is a three-year Christian Leadership Camp designed to encourage and equip High School students with a primary focus on biblical Disciple-Making and Servant-Leadership Development.
HG has trained over 4,000 campers from 30 states across the country. Many of our past graduates have gone on to become Summer Staff at KAA and are highly sought after for their integrity and leadership skills, and many of our HG graduates are now serving in some highly respected fields like nursing, Youth Leaders and teachers.
Thousands of Happy KAAmpers
Rice Family Donates to KAA
Rob, Mitch, and Adrea Rice normally send crops to KAA. But with Digital Kamp, they sold a calf instead. It sponsors several campers!
Volunteering Opened Our Eyes
Volunteering at KAA can be an eye opening experience, going behind the scenes to run a camp geared for under-privileged kids. KLife in Bolivar, MO says they encountered folks outside their normal experience, and learned to love in new ways.
Faithful – 30 Years of Maintaining KAA
Mr. Russell built KAA, and has been maintaining it for over 30 years. He has been faithful. He shares the story of doing what he has been called to do and “blooming where he has been planted.”
Justin Arceneaux Story
His injuries have refined him.
Justin Arceneaux wants to go to the Olympics, and he has the track times to do it.
But he’s also a mentor to Lafayette, LA kids, he wants to start an after-school program.
What will he choose?
Cross of Change
KAA maintenance man, David, had a creative idea for preserving the original wooden cross that has stood at our front gate for over 30 years.
Farming Wasn’t Enough – Did I Do What I Was Called?
He wanted to be a successful farmer…but that wasn’t enough for God. Nick Korn’s vision expanded to helping the youth of his community. Nick Korn has been bringing kids to KAA for 30 years, even while battling cancer. He asks God, “Did I do what You called me to do?”
The Toughest Kid
James Jackson with the Birmingham police brought a teenage boy to camp. The week was transformative. Thank you to the police who serve the youth of their communities.
Coach Ryan always asks his campers, “Who gave you arms and legs?” He wants his kids to know that all glory goes to God when they’re on the basketball court.
Finding Community at Potters House – Joseph Burns
Joseph grew up on the poorer side of Fayettville, AR.
Potters House exists to form community between unlike people, and Joseph found mentors that guided him through the risky part of his life.
Kids Across America camps was a special part of his involvement with Potters House.
Now Joseph is married and expecting a daughter and working to getting into law school.
Jeanie – Cooking the Food
Felicia – Honoring who kids are in Christ
Felicia has had tragedies, and working at KAA was a good place for her to endure.
Now she runs the Children’s Program at the Hope Center in Kansas City. Her empathy allows her to connect with her student’s stories and honor them through whatever is going on in their lives.
Camper Coach and Mentor – the story of Scott Fish and Marcus Gates
Scott Fish poured into kids in his early years. One of those kids now coaches football and brings his team to KAA. It’s a long-term partnership that is still affecting the community of Dallas.
It’s Worth It – Kamp During COVID
Lidia’s life was changed at KAA…and now she wants her family to experience that too. This year, with camper numbers down, it opened a door for her and her family to come to KAA.
The KAA Blog
Transformed by Faith
Camper Testimony: Brian “JR”
JR wanted to go to a camp but didn’t know of a good one, so he asked his pastor. His pastor could not think of one that came to mind, but “he knew one guy he could ask.” Wink. Wink. He prayed and asked God to lead him to a good camp for JR, and God led him to KAA.
His pastor told him to look it up online and see what he thought. It was a no brainer—the activities looked amazing—plus JR knew camp was the place to get back to God, shed old bad habits and create new life-giving ones.
Before he left for camp, he told his church family that he was going to come back as somebody they had never met before and that it was going to be a good thing. His pastor replied, “I’m ready for you to come back as somebody else I’ve never met before.”
While JR was ecstatic to come, he was also nervous. He had never been to any camp before. Soon after arriving his worries melted away. God had picked the perfect camp for him! He got to try several new things for the first time—tubing, jumping on the blob, swinging off the trapeze at the pool, conquering the challenge course—plus some his favorite classics, like playing baseball and basketball.
All the activities were awesome, but it was the interactions he had with his counselors and fellow campers ministered to his heart. The one-on-one conversations about real life struggles softened his heart.
Back home, JR, like many young people are living between two households—dealing with two sets of parents. He hated it, and his relationship with his dad and step-dad were equally lacking.
But he says, “God put the pieces back together at camp.”
His counselors spent extra time advising him, pouring scripture into him, praying with him, and encouraging him. Then, at Cross Talk, the last piece was put in place when JR rededicated his life to Jesus!
He couldn’t wait to go back and give his testimony to his church family. It is something to shout about. “No one knows the future,” JR shares, “but I can tell you right now, it is not going to be like my past. KAA is a place where you take a week out of your life and just give everything to God. Just one week can change you for a whole lifetime.”
Triumph Over Adversity
Triumph Over Adversity: Marlene Nash’s Breast Cancer Journey
Life has a way of presenting us with unexpected challenges. For Marlene, that challenge came in the form of a breast cancer diagnosis. Below, Marlene shares her personal journey as a breast cancer survivor; sharing her experiences, fears, and victories in the hope that it can provide inspiration and support to those facing a similar battle.
From the moment I heard those dreaded words, “You have breast cancer,” to the triumphant moment when I declared victory over this disease, my journey was one of resilience, strength, and unwavering hope.
It was a summer day in July 2023 when I first discovered something unusual in my breast. The fear that gripped me at that moment was indescribable. I had heard that when a lump feels hard, it’s more likely to be cancer, and that terrified me. I didn’t know what to do, but I knew I had to reach out to my doctor.
However, the emotional turmoil left me paralyzed, unable to make that call. It took me a couple of days of prayer and self-reflection to gather the courage to contact my doctor. I realized that I needed to stop dwelling on negative thoughts and place my trust in God.
My doctor didn’t respond immediately, but that period of waiting allowed me to find some peace and solace. It was a reminder that sometimes we must let go and have faith that things will work out.
After the initial contact with my doctor, a series of tests and appointments followed. My diagnosis was early-stage breast cancer, specifically ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS). Thankfully, it had not spread beyond its initial location, giving me hope for a positive outcome.
During this time, I learned the importance of advocating for myself in the medical system. When I was initially scheduled for surgery months down the line, I knew I needed to push for an earlier date. My assertiveness paid off as my surgery date was moved up, emphasizing the significance of being proactive in your own healthcare.
Surgery and Recovery
I underwent a mastectomy, which involved the removal of my entire breast and some lymph nodes for further examination. It was a daunting experience, but I found comfort in the skilled hands of my surgeon, who was not only a medical professional but also a person of faith. His presence and expertise reassured me that I was in capable hands.
The recovery process came with its own set of challenges. I had to adapt to a new sleep position to avoid straining the surgical site. Activities were limited, and lifting my arms above my head was initially forbidden. It was a gradual journey towards healing, but my support system, including my family and coworkers, played a crucial role in helping me navigate this path.
Breast cancer had touched my family before; my mother and sister had both battled the disease. Their resilience and strength served as a source of inspiration for me. My mother, who had chosen not to undergo breast reconstruction, showed me that beauty is not defined by appearances but by the strength of one’s spirit.
Throughout this journey, I realized the importance of allowing others to support and care for me. My KAA family has been available and encouraging for anything I need and a great reminder to listen to my body and take it slow. Sometimes, we need to let go of our need to be self-reliant and accept help from those who genuinely care.
Reflecting on my breast cancer journey, I’ve discovered valuable lessons. Firstly, I’ve come to understand that our journeys may not be solely for us; they can serve as inspiration and hope for others. Secondly, the timing and outcome of our struggles are ultimately in the hands of God. Lastly, taking time to rest and care for ourselves is essential for healing and growth.
My breast cancer journey has been a rollercoaster of emotions, but it has also been a journey of self-discovery, strength, and faith. I hope that by sharing my story, I can offer support and encouragement to others who are facing similar challenges. Remember, you are not alone in this fight, and there is hope even in the darkest moments. Let go, have faith, and allow yourself the time to heal and grow. Together, we can triumph over adversity.
The first annual Alumni Weekend was unforgettable as KAA alumni gathered together. This event allowed old and new summer staff to connect with one another and celebrate the bond that connects them as alumni.
Alumni Weekend was not just a time for reminiscing but also an opportunity for continued growth and learning. A panel discussion was held, creating a space for wisdom to be shared and insights to empower future alumni in their spiritual lives.
“I knew personally that KAA had many tremendous and impactful moments for me on my journey with Jesus,” says Gladys Alexander, alumni liaison. “Lifelong friendships and conversations with the Holy Spirit are just some of the blessings that have come from my experiences on this land. Helping to plan alumni weekend this summer just confirmed through so many other alumni that KAA is a special place where the Lord meets you, stretches you and reminds you just how much He loves you.”
As the weekend ended, fulfillment and gratitude filled the hearts of all alumni attendees. The Alumni Weekend served its purpose in rekindling old connections, fostering new friendships, and reigniting the passion we all felt during our time serving at KAA.
The memories created and the experiences shared during this unforgettable weekend will continue to inspire and motivate us to remember why Kids Across America is such a special place.
Are you an alumni of Kids Across America? We want to stay connected with you! Join the network now.
Impacting Teams for Christ
KAA Elite was held for the second year at camp during sessions 2 and 8. KAA Elite is a special camp that provides a structured, empowering and encouraging time for coaches and their teams. Darius’s team from Dallas was eager to come again this year, because of the team bonding that took place last year. Not only did it impact his team throughout the year, but it also had a personal impact on him.
“It really brought me closer to God. Some things I thought I couldn’t do I found that I could do here, and it helped me start caring about others on my team,” Darius shared. “I got a better experience with my team, and I left as a man of God and came back a man of God.”
Together, the team lifted weights, worked out on the field, scrimmaged, and did drills.
In addition to drills, 7 on 7 scrimmages, teams also go through some challenge courses that build stamina, mental and physical acuity, and maybe most importantly, trust in your teammates and God.
One such challenge is the Navy Seal Competition that features the quest to move a 35-lb rubber plate the length of the football field without allowing it to touch the ground. Sounds easy, right? Not so much. Members of each team must sit on the ground, passing it to the next. After the first in line hands off the plastic burden, he changes position to last, and it keeps rotating that way until the end zone is reached.
The weight is carried the entire challenge and cannot touch the ground. If it did, the team had to start over the challenge station where the lapse occurred. Following the plate exercise each team, had to run to two more stations to complete a 200-team push-up challenge, a 200-team squat challenge.
Once they conquered push-up and squat challenges, they ran back to the football field for the final challenge–to perfectly recite a scripture verse. Sounds easy, again, Right? Breath came a little harder by the time they reached the last challenge.
When Davonta first learned what the Navy Seal Competition would entail, he wasn’t sure he wanted to participate. It seemed overwhelming—too hard. There was no way he could finish it. “Then, when we were going through it, we realized we could do it as a team. We could get through it together.”
Davonta really liked working together and encouraging his teammates during KAA Elite.
Like, Darias he’s taking more home than just a team-bonding experience. “KAA helped make me think more about doing better and just bringing my relationship closer to Christ.”
Global Impact! Former Camper Now Missionary to Ethiopia
“The vision of Kids Across America is to transform urban youth to impact their communities for Christ, but God’s vision is much grander than we can every conceive.”
Tesa’s mom learned about KAA and sent her to camp when she was 12. She remembers the bus ride up from Houston. She arrived and was surprised to learn it was a sports camp, because she didn’t play any sports. However, she discovered there was much more to it and dove into the bible studies, worship, and prayer. And she loved the praise dance team! Camp was a welcomed experience because she had never worshipped with kids her age. The church she attended at the time did not have any other kids her age. While she had a relationship with Jesus, camp sparked a thirst for God’s word.
Fast forward 15 years. Tesa earned her degree in veterinarian medicine and moved to Maryland to work at a clinic. There she found her second calling: teaching English as a second language to immigrants from Ethiopia, El Salvador, and Haiti working at the clinic. Tesa didn’t want language to be a barrier for their success. Then she had an opportunity to visit Ethiopia through her church. While there, she felt God tug on her heart that she needed to be there. He gave her the vision to teach English and be a voice for those who do not have one. After much prayer, she stepped out in faith to move to a country where due to the substandard infrastructure, it is not uncommon to lose power and water for hours at a time.
With only knowing one person there, Tesa moved to Ethiopia in 2018 to teach English—a vital skill to be successful there. In fact, to advance to college after high school students must pass a standard exam in English. She learned that it was taught in the public schools, but the curriculum wasn’t quality and the teachers trying to teach it didn’t speak English either. Since discovering this need, Tesa’s ministry is focused on educating elementary school children and their teachers.
She launched her ministry All Children Count in 2020 when the public schools closed due the pandemic. All Children Count is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization providing children of low socioeconomic status education equality and equity through financial assistance, tutoring services, technology integration, educational resources, and school support.
This past year, All Children Count tutored 400 children and 80 teachers on ESL. It also hosts a pop-up library, since books, especially in English, are hard to get, as well as provides clothing, shoes, backpacks, and other essentials to 60 children annually.
“The hope is that they see Christ in us and see the light shining through us,” explains Tesa. “We also want to see a change in the education system.” And Tesa says change is happening, although slowly.
Then, God orchestrated something amazing. This past winter KAA CEO & President Randy Odom and his wife Kelandria traveled to Ethiopia on a mission trip. They happened to attend the church where Tesa goes. It’s unusual to encounter another American there, especially since the village Tesa lives in a remote town away from the capitol. So, after church, she went up to them to introduce herself. Quickly, the discovered the common bond of Kids Across America. It’s incredible to think the probability of this happening! “God had something in mind,” Tesa says. “It had to be something God ordained.”
Since then, Tesa has reconnected with camp. The Odoms keep in contact to encourage and pray with her, and the KAA staff organized a book drive for the pop-up library. “The children will be excited,” she said. “Many people can’t afford to buy books. We’re grateful for KAA thinking of us! These books will give some our children to own a book for the first time.”
Over the summer, Tesa was able to make a trip to the states and visited camp. As soon as she drove through the camp gates, memories began flooding back. She got visit KAA 2, where she was a camper. And as she remembers, “the cabins, the dining hall, everything looks the same.” She even remembered how the benches were stacked on the tables in the dining hall and couldn’t believe they were the same benches.
While at camp, Tesa also had the opportunity to see how camp had grown since her time there and share her story of Kingdom impact with Kaleos and counselors. Russia Beaver served as one of her counselors and really had an impact on her. She noticed that Tesa was shy and introverted and helped her to express herself. When Tesa met with the staff, she emphasized the importance of ministering to the “quiet ones” like her. As she put it, “They have a lot to say!”
“Often in life, you stumble into a God moment,” said Randy. “That was such a moment when we met Tessa in Ethiopia. Nothing is by chance. God used this moment to remind me that it might be Kids Across America, but we have an impact across the world. We never know where these kids are going or who they are going to become to change the world. Some plant, some water, but God brings forth the increase.”
Through this providential connection, Tesa is now connected with another former Higher Ground camper who is also in Ethopia doing mission work. The vision of Kids Across America is to transform urban youth to impact their communities for Christ, but God’s vision is much grander than we can ever conceive.
To learn more or get involved with All Children Count, you can go to allchildrencountinternational.com and click on “get involved.”
Summer 2024 at KAA
Are you ready for an unforgettable summer? Look no further than Kids Across America (KAA), the Christian sports camp that has been transforming urban youth through sports and education for over 30 years. We’re thrilled to announce that registration for the summer of 2024 officially begins October 2nd! If you want your child to be a part of this life-changing experience, read on for all the essential details.
To reserve spaces for your group, we require a $25 deposit per person. This deposit will help us ensure that we can accommodate everyone who wishes to be a part of KAA in 2024. Space is limited, and we encourage you to act swiftly to secure your spots.
In response to feedback from our campers and leaders, we’re excited to announce a change in our session durations for the Summer of 2024. Sessions will now end on Fridays, allowing for a smoother transition back home and making transportation planning more convenient for everyone. You can find a copy of our updated camp dates attached to this blog for your reference as you plan your attendance and transportation services.
Kids Across America is gearing up for an exciting summer in 2024, and we want your child to be a part of it. By completing your registration, updating your information, and securing your space with a deposit, you’re taking the first step towards an unforgettable summer filled with growth, fun, and faith.
Get ready for an amazing adventure with KAA! We can’t wait to see you in Summer 2024. Don’t delay—register today and secure your spot for an experience your child will cherish forever.
Asking Jesus into My Heart at KAA
Every summer at Kids Across America, something extraordinary unfolds. It’s a time when kids, from all over the world, come together, not only to experience the joys of sports and the outdoors but to embrace a deeper connection—giving their lives to Christ and sharing the profound experiences that shape their spiritual journey. Get ready to be inspired by the testimony of India, 14.
We are SO HAPPY India came back to camp this summer! Last year she came for the first time and loved meeting new friends, the FUN activities and especially Cross Talk. That was her favorite part. In fact, she couldn’t get it off her mind all year long.
“Camp would not get off my mind,” India shared. I was so excited to come back and see Crosstalk and meet new people who love God.”
This summer she made a BOLD decision for Christ and asked Jesus into her heart.
India shared that during a cabin devotional on sin and when Miss Candace, her counselor prayed, she knew then how much she needed Jesus.
“I knew it was time to ask Jesus into my heart, and later that day I rang the bell,” India said.
Praise God for moving in the hearts of kids and teens this summer. Lives are being transformed. Kids are being redirected from the world to the hope of Jesus! She loves learning about her Savior.
Thank Him also for canoes, quesadillas, and campfires! India had a week to remember and was surrounded by people who love Jesus.
She sums up her experience like this: “KAA is a Christian camp with a bunch of kids that want to get closer to God.”