Camp Gladiator Victory, a team-building, sports-oriented summer camp for children in the Austin, Waco and Dallas-Fort Worth areas, may be exactly what a child needs this summer to gain confidence, camaraderie and conviction.

Ally Davidson, founder of Camp Gladiator and CG Victory, knew from an early age she wanted to start a summer camp for children. As a lover of summer camps herself, she was inspired to one day offer the younger generation a similar experience.

“I really felt a unique and distinct calling from God when I went to that camp,” Davidson said. “He said to me, ‘Ally, one day I want you to open up a Christian nonprofit summer sports camp for kids.’ So, I got that calling at a very young age of 14.”

On her wedding day, Davidson tried out for the television show “American Gladiators”—then went on to compete in and win the season. She used her winnings to launch Camp Gladiator, a fitness program for adults. Soon, the business gave her the opportunity to begin CG Victory, her dream summer camp for youth.

“I really believe that God had us roll out the adult programs first, so that those could really gain momentum and popularity and really build that business because that is the primary way we fundraise for the kids camp,” Davidson said.

One way CG Victory recruits campers is through offering scholarships to underserved, unreached youth who are in difficult life circumstances. This year, the organization raised $500,000 through a campaign called Burpees for Victory, where adults in the Camp Gladiator program get a bit of payback for all of their hard workouts by having their trainers do burpees.

“Maybe [campers] are in the foster care system, or have a low-income single parent, they’ve got a lot of challenges,” Davidson said. “So, we provide a lot of scholarships to those kids for our kids camps ... It’s our love, it’s our passion.”

Aside from the camps that partner exclusively with local organizations to reach “kids from hard places,” families can also pay to send their kids to CG Victory. CG Victory Executive Director Maria Sikkema said the unique mix of background stories makes it even more rewarding for campers.

“It creates a pretty diverse experience, which is really cool,” Sikkema said.

CG Victory offers several different camping experiences. Its half day camp program runs from 8 a.m.-noon and is available for children between the third and the eighth grade, and there is also an overnight camp program at Camp Buckner for those entering seventh through 11th grade.

Additionally, CG Victory is running a pilot program for a full day option the week of July 25 in Austin’s Hyde Park area. Sikkema said the affordable price and quality of the program is filling spots fast.

In each camp, kids are split up between two teams and spend their week earning points for their team through activities like relay races, pies in the face and water balloon fights.

“The energy is very much fed off of the group experience,” Sikkema said. “Our camps are very large—a lot of kids, a lot of energy. Our camp has a pretty distinctive competition program where the kids will get really, really excited for their team to win.”

Sikemma said the overnight camp mirrors the same culture as the day camp, but with more opportunities on a property with rock climbing, zip lining, a huge pool, a blob and a waterslide.

“You’re getting a tighter knit experience with a counselor and with a kind of little family in your cabin, so the kids get really close to each other. And, there’s no technology,” Sikemma said.

On the last day of camp, parents are invited to observe the closing ceremony and obstacle course. Sikemma said many of them are in awe at the quick growth of their child’s courageousness.

“A lot of the parents will say, ‘I never thought my kid would be the kid screaming on the top of their lungs in the very front, and I never thought they’d be so brave to climb that huge inflatable,’” Sikkema said.

As many children have lacked the opportunity to participate in large group activities due to the pandemic, Sikemma and Davidson hope they can have an unforgettable experience this summer at CG Victory.

“I think the first day, they show up shy and timid. By the last day, they are completely bought in and they’re excited about something,” Davidson said. “As a parent, it’s awesome to see when your kid can get excited about something and just have those feelings of being on a team and having relationships with the counselors and their team members.”

Learn more about Camp Gladiator Victory and find available spots for summer campers at

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