Rodeo Bible Camp teaches youth toughness, faith |

Rodeo Bible Camp teaches youth toughness, faith

Pastor Randy Armstrong discusses life lessons for campers at Open Range Rodeo Bible Camp.
Andy Bockelman

The cowboy lifestyle is one that offers lessons regularly if you’re working on a ranch or out on the range, but there are many things to learn in other aspects of life, both physically and spiritually.

The inaugural Open Range Rodeo Bible Camp was staked out this week at Moffat County Fairgrounds, with a crowd of 13 kids working with farm animals and enhancing their faith.

With sleeping bags and everything, the three-night, four-day experience was arranged by Randy Armstrong, pastor of Craig’s Open Range Cowboy Church. After working with a similar project in Grand Junction, Armstrong said he wanted to bring the experience to his area.

“We’ve got some great clinicians here, and we have kids here who have never even been on a horse, but they’re just falling in love with it,” he said.

Instructors utilized animal handling through rodeo techniques such as roping and rough stock-style events like bareback riding, saddle bronc and bulls.

Joseph Hockaday and brothers Clay and Logan Durham were able to put their bull-riding experience to good use while still picking up some helpful advice about the activity.

“You work on muscle memory and staying centered,” Clay said.

Likewise, Zach Hedman, Dorian Hotchkiss and Triston Day said perfecting proper riding with broncs is key.

Hotchkiss and Day have each been involved in rodeo for about four years.

“What I enjoy most about it is it’s a good skill to learn working on a ranch because when you’ve got a newborn foal, you’ve got to be able to break it so you can use it in your pasture or just to ride it,” Day said.

Tami Foth provided a course in horsemanship focusing in equine care and grooming as well as the basics of riding.

“Each girl has not only challenged themselves but also challenged their horse to grow,” she said. “They build skills like walking smoothly, walking where they want them to go on into trotting and loping, barrel patterns.”

Sumay Pottieter and Aliyah Saldivar said they have continually learned more about the bond they can form with horses.

“I’ve ridden horses a few times, but I’ve never really worked with them as far as barrels and things like that,” Pottieter said. “You learn to stay patient and calm because they can pick up on what you’re feeling.”

Camp participants were able to showcase their learning with a small rodeo event Thursday. Throughout the week, Armstrong also provided chapel sessions to discuss the ties between ranch life and Christian duties.

The theme for the week was relationships.

“We’re trying to help kids realize they have specific relationships in their lives with their peers, their family, their animals,” Foth said. “We also want them to build their relationship with their lord and savior, Jesus Christ. The thing that has amazed me is how these kids came together not knowing each and within the first day, they all built amazing relationships.”

Armstrong added that building a temperament that can weather any obstacles is a huge lesson.

“They really gain a lot of understanding about how our everyday life works with our walk in Christ. Problems arise, but we can work through it,” he said. “No matter what we do, He’ll get us through it.”