FALKVILLE, Ala. – No Fences Cowboy Church leaders said their experience is extremely unique.
“In a traditional church, sometimes they have a gym, and they’re able to reach kids and do things in their gym. And we have an arena,” explained Senior Pastor Josh Sparkman.
Kids from Alabama, Louisiana, and even California gathered this weekend with a mission in mind: to become better bull riders and human beings.
“One of the most rewarding things from my own rodeo career was the friendships I made along the way,” explained Daniel Cochran, who coordinates the annual event. “The lifelong friendships and I see these guys doing the same thing.”
For the past two years the church has hosted Bull Riding School.
Except this year’s event happens to take place during a very turbulent time in America.
One camp leader says today’s racial climate further proves the need for cultural diversity and awareness, something the cowboys have embraced during the camp.
“If nobody’s taking a stance saying, ‘I’m going to go meet new friends that don’t look like me. I’m going to go invest in communities that don’t look like mine,’ we’re not going to get anywhere,” said riding instructor Jamon Turner. “I think travel is one thing that will break a world of prejudice.”
Turner brought students from Shreveport, Louisiana to the camp.
“I’ve never seen a brotherhood like what we find back there on the back of the bucking shoots,” explained Kagan Long, a student at the camp. “I would take these guys to war.”
“I met these boys yesterday morning,” explained Adrian Williams, who traveled from Los Angeles to attend the camp. “Everyone’s already close and having fun.”
Professional bull rider Cody Nance also stopped by the camp to encourage the young riders.
“It gives me great memories of when I started and rekindles that fire in me,” he said. “To be able to see these guys get up after getting stomped and rolled around. They don’t even have it all figured out. But that’s what they’re eager to do, figure it out.”
Another riding instructor, Tre Hosley, traveled from Compton, California alongside a few students. He said the boys are learning transferrable skills in the arena.
“The tenacity and the drive to get kicked, to get rolled over on, and keep wanting to get on, keep wanting to go after things. I think that’ll transfer over into life,” he explained.
Those are things they want the young men to take with them through life’s ups and downs, reminding them that God has already equipped them with everything they need to meet any challenge head-on.