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Finding Hope and Healing in the Black Hills

Published on June 02, 2022

Allison Gibeson

For Morgan Palser, Black Hills FCA Camp has been a place of healing, spiritual growth, and connection that has been formative in her growing relationship with Jesus.

Today Palser is a math teacher, volleyball and basketball coach, and FCA Huddle leader at Cheyenne East High School in Cheyenne, Wyoming. At this point in her journey, she traces much of her spiritual development to Black Hills FCA Camp at Black Hills State University in Spearfish, South Dakota. It’s a journey that began when she attended the camp during summer of 2012, after her freshman year of high school.

As a high school athlete playing volleyball and basketball and running track, she often separated her life into separate compartments for faith, family and sports. But that mentality changed after camp.

“I was a Christian at that point, but I felt challenged in my faith to put God at the center of my life,” she said.

“The speaker said our Christian life should be like a bullseye,” Morgan explained. “God is at the center, and everything flows from that. If God’s not, your dartboard is going to be off-balance. Ever since then, I’ve strived to make sure God is always at the center of my life and that I am being obedient to Him no matter what’s going on.”

After that experience, she got involved in FCA at her high school and became a student-leader.

After high school graduation in 2015, Palser returned to camp, this time as a Huddle leader attending the University of Wyoming in Laramie in fall. The year had been difficult, as her parents were separated and she struggled with anger after receiving hurtful news.

“It was hard to process,” Palser said. “I had a lot of bitterness and resentment in my heart.”

There were counselors available at camp, and their encouragement helped motivate her to rely on the Lord to forgive and move forward.

“That was a big moment for me before starting college,” Palser said. “Camp helped me become more of a leader in my faith, and it brought a lot of healing. I was there to serve, but I got healing for my heart, too. It reminds me of God’s love.”

In addition, she was able to build relationships with other Huddle leaders who were college juniors and seniors, and one of them even mentored her during college. This also helped her plug into FCA on campus right away, allowing her faith to grow and have accountability.

Camp continued to make a lasting impression on Palser. Last summer, she and her husband Drew both served as coaches for the Black Hills camp.

Palser enjoyed getting to know the Huddle leaders and get into good discussions. “I struggled so much with singleness in college, so we would have talks about waiting and being ready for the right person.”

DSC_0746 (2)She also focused on teaching campers to play in a God-honoring manner and be a good teammate. When she shared her testimony, some of the girls came up and talked about similar situations they were experiencing in their own lives.

“Any time I would go to South Dakota, it was a great time to reflect on how I’m actually doing and get poured into, whether through the speakers, other staff or Huddle leaders,” Palser said. “I always felt recharged coming home.”

Camp has ultimately shown Palser God’s faithfulness in her life through her development of camper to Huddle leader to coach, reminding her of Psalm 139, where the Psalmist speaks of intentional and intimate design and plans for life.

“You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body
    and knit me together in my mother’s womb.
Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex!
    Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it.”   -Psalm 139:13-14

When people ask Palser about her joyful spirit, she points to her relationship with Jesus. She feels blessed to see high school and college girls who love God play for His glory and wants to keep developing the environment that has meant so much to her.

“Never underestimate what God can do in a single moment or event,” said Palser, “you never know how someone has changed.”

The 2022 Black Hills Sports Camp sold out due to space, and to accommodate future growth camps will be held in 2023 at both the University of Wyoming and Black Hills State University. 


Karsten Sween, Wyoming State Director, requests prayer for safety at camp and that the Holy Spirit would lead hearts and minds to repentance. Additionally, he asks for prayer for the coaches to have a clear vision for Christ-honoring coaching and for staff to be filled with the love and work of God.




Photos courtesy of Morgan Palser