CBS to air special on 'The Lord's Boot Camp'
CBS's 48 Hours is re-airing a special on a unique Christian camp -- and the camp's founder is encouraging people to tune in.
The Lord's Boot Camp is located in south Florida's swampland and is run by Teen Missions International. Both were founded in the early 1970s by Bob Bland and offer teenagers an intense two-week training session before they embark on overseas mission trips.
Bland told OneNewsNow that the camp portion was created after one of the mission teams encountered some close calls.
"And in 72 we took a team to Peru and we said, 'Boy, so many things went wrong because the kids were so undisciplined and there was such a danger...we almost lost about five kids' lives, that I said we'll never do this again without training because it is too dangerous,'" he explains. "And so we decided to run a camp and have a training camp prior to [the mission trips], a two-week training camp."
The first camp was in Ohio, but Bland says the facilities were too comfortable. So they ended up buying 265 acres of "prime Florida swamp" that butts up against the Kennedy Space Center. The students go through intense training and are essentially unplugged from society, as no electronic devices -- including cell phones and iPods -- are allowed in hopes of doing away with distractions.
The campground, designed to simulate the type of atmosphere encountered on the mission field, is primitive in nature, with campers sleeping in tents and bathing from buckets. They also run through an obstacle course every morning, learn how to mix cement, and do other various carpentry tasks. Instructors also teach campers gospel-sharing techniques that range from sports to puppet shows.
Bland points out the intense training starts at 5:30 a.m. and ends at 9:30 p.m. He notes that by the time the day is done, all the campers want to do is sleep. The camp also teaches discipline, which according to the ministry founder is an important characteristic on the mission field. "We're trying to set some discipline and inform these kids who are from all kinds of backgrounds, all kinds of churches -- some that are very liberal, some that are very conservative -- and try to form them into a team that we can work together as Christians and do something to help missions," he explains.
The 48 Hours special focuses on three teens who went through The Lord's Boot Camp and recount their personal experiences. Bland believes they did a fairly good job of telling the story.
Loki Films, who also made the documentary Jesus Camp, participated in the special and even sent a film crew overseas with Teen Missions International. Bland says the focus of that trip was to help AIDS orphans through Orphan Angels -- a motorcycle team that ministers to some of the over 13 million AIDS orphans.
"So what we're doing is building what we call Rescue Units, and it's a little plywood building," he points out. "We have eight Bible schools in Africa. We take two of our graduates and we put them out in this little village, and they will work a five-mile circle."
The teams then conduct a survey to see how many orphans are in the area. Bland says in one such survey, they found more than 600 AIDS orphans -- and in most of those households, the oldest person was 10 years old. "And people say, 'Well, how do they live?' They don't," he laments. "They die -- and they die by the hundreds." Bland adds that most of them die of malaria.
According to the ministry leader, it only takes about three dollars of over-the-counter medicine to cure these children of malaria -- and that, he says, is one his mission team's primary tasks. They also help the orphans to plant gardens and get enrolled in school.
Bland recalls as the Loki Film crew members saw the teens working with the orphans, they were very surprised and touched by the work. He believes that is one of the reasons behind CBS's decision to re-air the special.
"The Lord's Boot Camp" airs Saturday, December 27, at 8:00 p.m. Eastern time on CBS.