A Look Back at Where It All Began: WinShape Stories (1984-1986)

It all started with Truett. Go back to the early days and see how WinShape came to be.

Taking a trip down memory lane...

Founding Director of WinShape Foundation Bob Skelton remembers S. Truett Cathy’s impact on everyone who was a part of WinShape’s early days.


“We’re better people because he was a part of our lives and he let us be a part of his life.”

Bob recalls that when Truett first brought the Chick-fil-A vice presidents to Berry College to look at the empty Mountain Campus, they couldn’t see any financial reason why it would be a good investment. One of them even said, “That Mountain Campus is a great big black hole that you’re going to have to pour money into, and you’ll never be able to fill it up.”

But Truett saw investments in a different way. He realized that sometimes you’re looking for more than a return, and sometimes returns can’t be measured financially.

So how did it all start? In the early 1980s, Berry College President Dr. Gloria Shatto took Truett and his wife, Jeanette, on a tour of Berry College campus, including part of the campus that currently wasn’t occupied. After the tour, Truett and Jeanette kept thinking about the empty buildings, wondering how they could be used.

With young people always at the forefront of his mind, Truett got the idea to create a leadership program for Berry College students who would also be employed at the local Chick-fil-A.

Agreeing, Jeanette said she felt she was “standing on holy ground,” and it was decided. The WinShape College Program was born.

Truett said, “The kids are winners. We just want to help shape them for life.”

In January 1985, Truett began thinking of other ways to use the Mountain Campus buildings when students were home for the summer. He had always sent his kids—Dan, Bubba and Trudy—to camp during the summers, and he saw the potential to create a similar experience through WinShape. With access to dormitories, a dining hall, land and meeting spaces, Truett challenged Bob to look into opening a boys’ camp.

Bob recruited Rick Johnson, who left his job as director at Ridgecrest Summer Camps to come establish Camp Winshape for Boys that April.

“I never had an interview, I never signed a contract…,” Rick remembers. “[Truett] just assumed I knew what I was doing…He supported me in every way.”

David “Speedy” Trejo, current director of WinShape Camps for Boys, describes the side of Truett they saw, one that was different from his “corporate” side.

 

“We got to see Truett in a camp setting where he was just a normal person,” he says.

Truett’s goal wasn’t for them to collect a lot of money; ultimately, he just wanted a place for kids to be impacted. And he didn’t just leave that up to the staff. He often came to camp to spend time with the kids himself, always sharing these three principles:

  • “I am Third”: The idea that God should always be first in our lives, others come second, and we are third.
  • “Master, Mission, Mate”: In order, our priorities should be our Master (God), our mission (to make disciples and fulfill God’s calling on our life), and our mate (husband or wife).
  • “If it is to be, it is up to me”: Paired with faith, we have a responsibility to act and carry out God’s work.


Over 30 years later, Bob says with confidence, “I think I’m a better father because I saw the way he treated his children and the way he treated my children—anyone’s children…I learned every person is of value because of watching him.”

 

Carrying on his father’s legacy today, Bubba Cathy says the hope of WinShape’s impact is that people would experience God.

“We want God to be alive in them,” he says, “that they might really be fulfilled in Him, getting the most out of life.”

 

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