EUREKA SPRINGS – Long known for hosting America’s most-attended outdoor drama, The Great Passion Play is now leveraging its campus’ natural beauty for a new outreach opportunity – professionally designed and constructed mountain bike trails.
“We started building hiking and nature trails through the Holy Land Tour area with youth mission trip groups in summer 2016, and it really started to snowball from there,” said Kent Butler, director of marketing for the Passion Play.
“After hiking the trails with members of the local Carroll County Ozark Off Road Cyclists organization in fall 2016, we saw that hiking was just the beginning and that mountain biking especially was something that people wanted to do,” said Butler.
Kelsie Scott serves on the Passion Play’s staff as director of missions, organizing mission trip opportunities associated with the play’s various ministries.
Kelsie Scott’s husband, Alex Scott, grew up in the Texas hill country, where his father founded and operated Camp Eagle, a Christian outdoor adventure camp. Beginning at age 12, he designed the camp’s mountain bike trails and, with the help of his father and numerous volunteers, brought them to reality.
In 2016, Camp Eagle expanded by forming a second campus in Glorieta, N.M. After the new campus was designated as a new venue for the Big Mountain Enduro Series mountain bike competition, Alex Scott was tasked with building new trails for the event.
“This was his first real ‘gig’ as a professional trail builder. The trails were a big hit at the race and are some of the professional racers’ favorites,” said Kelsie Scott. “Alex then realized he could really do what he loved for a living. He knew he wanted to start his own company one day, but he definitely needed some more time and training under his belt.”
Alex Scott spent the summer of 2017 working with Tony Boone Trails based in Salida, Colo. The job allowed him to hone his craft and flesh out aspirations of starting his own trail-building business.
When Boone decided he wanted to stay closer to his home and family in Colorado, Alex Scott jumped at the opportunity to incorporate his own business and take on a contract in the Arkansas Ozarks. Jagged Axe Trail Designs was founded in 2018.
The Scotts believe their move to Arkansas was a divine appointment for more than one reason. In addition to allowing Alex Scott the opportunity to begin a self-employed career doing what he loves, Kelsie Scott’s college degree in theater and love for working with students and youth made her well-suited for a position with the Passion Play.
“It was truly a God-thing that we ended up at the Passion Play. … I knew I wanted some work outside of running the trail-building business and after interviewing with Kent to see where I could fit in at the play, it was evident God wanted me involved in the summer mission trip program,” said Kelsie Scott.
As the play’s director of missions, Kelsie Scott schedules youth groups to come and participate in various service projects on campus. She also participates in the organization’s main event: The Great Passion Play.
“It is really incredible how God works to bring the right people together,” said Kelsie Scott. “The fact that the trails are able to be professionally built by believers and used to benefit the mission of Christ blows my mind.”
In celebration of the grand opening of around 16 miles of recently completed mountain bike trails on the 700-acre Eureka Springs campus, The Great Passion Play is hosting the Dirt Church Mountain Bike Festival April 13-14.
Billed as an event for the entire family, the Dirt Church festival will include three timed mountain bike events: cross country, harescramble and a gravity stage race.
In her joint role with Jagged Edge and the Passion Play, Kelsie Scott helped to plan the festival, with all proceeds of the event going toward maintaining and expanding the trails.
The Ozark region is known nationwide for its mountain bike trails. In 2017 National Geographic named Bentonville, just 39 miles east of Eureka Springs, as one of “America’s 20 Best Mountain Bike Towns.”
While enthusiasts come from far and wide to experience the heralded trails firsthand, for Butler, the Scotts and the Passion Play organization as a whole, the chief goal of the campus’ new mountain bike trails is to provide a new and relevant avenue for sharing the gospel with all who visit.
“The play really hopes that the trails will bring more people to the property so that we can show them Who Jesus is and love on more people. We are also really striving to be a part of the growing mountain biking community in Eureka Springs,” said Kelsie Scott.
For more information on The Great Passion Play’s mountain bike trails, visit greatpassionplay.org. For more information on the Dirt Church festival, visit jaggedaxetraildesigns.com/dirtchurch.
Contact Caleb Yarbrough at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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