By Cathy Spaulding
Phoenix Staff Writer
As a child, Joshua Silver thought he knew what he wanted in life.
“I grew up wanting to be a pro baseball player,” said Silver, 21. “My first word was ‘ball.’ I loved baseball.”
But things change.
“When I was in high school, I felt God was kind of asking me to let go of that and actually become a pastor,” he said. “So I struggled with that, because I really wanted me to be a pro baseball player.”
Silver had planned to attend Oklahoma Baptist University to get his Bible degree. But things changed.
He went on a mission trip through the iGo Global mission program.
“I got to talking to some missionaries there and they encouraged me to seek something else that wasn’t a Bible degree as a way to support myself,” he said. “I thought about it and prayed about it, and education came to mind. I always loved kids. In high school I worked with them all the time and had a blast with them. So I said ‘OK, we’ll try that.’”
Silver said teaching is “one of the most noble callings in the world.”
“It’s an exciting way to impact some people’s lives,” he said.
After graduating from Muskogee High School in 2010, Silver went to Northeastern State University. He graduated in May and landed a teaching job in Jones.
Silver said he wanted a district close to Shawnee, where his fiancee attends school. Jones is about 40 miles from there.
“I do want to come back to Muskogee eventually,” he said. “I don’t know if that will happen. I’m still looking at trying to become a pastor, a bi-vocational pastor/teacher.”
Silver is spending this summer in Muskogee, leading kids through Kamp Kidville.
Meet Joshua Silver
CAREER: An assistant director of Kamp Kidville day camp. He will start a teaching job this fall in Jones.
EDUCATION: Muskogee High School, 2010; Northeastern State University, 2013.
FAMILY: Fiancee, Kelsie Sims. Parents, Nubbin and Lisa Silver.
CHURCH: Grace Bible Church.
HOBBIES: Ultimate Frisbee, video games, sports, hanging out with friends.
From one team
Baseball isn’t the only sport Josh Silver has been passionate about. In high school and college, he was into Ultimate Frisbee, which he compared to football.
“It’s a lot of fun and great to be in,” he said, adding that Ultimate Frisbee is far more athletic than Frisbee golf.
“You’re passing the Frisbee around trying to get to the end zone,” he said. “It’s very fast-paced, very good exercise.”
Players must stop running when they have the disc, but they may pivot and pass to other receivers.
“I played in high school with some people from Fort Gibson,” he said. “I heard about it through word of mouth. My friend invited me, and I got hooked. They got a team going in Fort Gibson and I got to bond with kids I normally don’t get to bond with.”
He kept tossing in college.
“When I got to NSU, some of the kids who played with me were in the honors program,” he said. “It helped me stay fit in college — or at least fitter. I don’t know if I would call myself fit.”
He said the group played twice a week at Northeastern State University and went to several area tournaments, including one in Tulsa.
Silver’s team was the Giggling Geese.
“We spent a lot of time playing at Honor Heights Park,” he said, “There are a lot of geese there.
“We actually have a T-shirt with a picture of a goose catching a Frisbee. I still have that T-shirt somewhere.”
A leader in
Right after graduating from NSU, Silver landed at Kamp Kidville, where he is co-assistant director.
Silver, who has worked at the camp for several years, finds it great training for his teaching job.
“I’ve always wanted a job I can get up and be excited about going to. This is it,” he said.
First Baptist Church runs the day camp during the summer for kids who are out of school, Silver said, adding that up to 120 kids attend the camp.
“We teach them about God and they have a lot of fun activities,” he said. “They’re assigned a group that’s their age, and they have leaders who hang out with them. And it’s a blast. The leaders who lead the groups are phenomenal, staff is just amazing and it’s a lot of fun.”
Silver said he started at Kamp Kidville as a group leader a few years ago and moved up to co-assistant director this year.
“We help plan the camp. Before it starts, we help plan the schedules, design the activities, the field trips,” he said. “I’ve worked a lot on these big party themes we have on Fridays each week. Last week, we had an Olympics theme, and it was a lot of fun.”
The following Friday had a beach theme, which involved beach balls, squirt guns and all sorts of other wet-related fun.
“We make sure things run as smoothly as possible,” he said. “We get to interact with the kids a little bit but not as much as the leaders, which is a bummer. Because there are three of us, we get to escape a few times and get to be with the kids. That’s probably the best part.”
Paying it forward
Silver also spent time this summer at Character Camp. Muskogee Public Schools has run the two-day camp since 2001, when Silver was a student at Creek Elementary.
“Its a lot of fun, you do silly things. All kids do a talent show. It’s just a blast,” he said.
In high school, Silver was a student assistant at the camp, helping the younger campers play games and set up things.
“When I got into college. Mr. Tomlinson (the director) invited me back to speak, which was exciting,” he said. “I guess I did OK because he invited me back. I didn’t scare anyone, at least.”
Silver said the camp is one of a variety of character programs he joined at Muskogee schools.
“We had the Knights program my last couple of years at Creek — the Knights of Chivalry,” he said. “I got knighted a couple of times. I still got the medals, actually. I remember one being for responsibility, then they did something called the Black Knight, it was like showing all character traits. We got to sit up on the stage. It was big time.”
Silver said he sees the benefit of character education.
“If we don’t have a strong moral character as a society, we go downhill rapidly,” he said. “It is important to show kids it is important. People do watch you and you do have an impact.
“A lot of these kids are going to be future leaders and have a chance to change the world. I think we can see results of efforts being made. Muskogee has really thrived these past few years. Muskogee is getting a lot of character awards.”
HOW DID YOU BECOME AN OKIE FROM MUSKOGEE?
“Dad was from Tulsa and Mom was from Missouri. He got a job in Muskogee.”
WHAT DO YOU LIKE BEST ABOUT MUSKOGEE?
“It’s just a really friendly atmosphere. People are very compassionate with each other, helping each other out when they need it. It’s just a great town.”
WHAT WOULD MAKE MUSKOGEE A BETTER PLACE TO LIVE?
“I think we’re doing pretty great.”
WHAT DO YOU DO FOR A LIVING IN MUSKOGEE?
A co-assistant director at Kamp Kidville Day Camp at First Baptist Church.
WHAT DO YOU DO IN YOUR SPARE TIME?
“Watch movies. I hang out with the staff a lot, with my friends.”
WHAT OKIE FROM MUSKOGEE DO YOU ADMIRE?
“My parents. They set a wonderful example for me. They have been married a long time, and they are still madly in love.”
WHAT IS THE MOST MEMORABLE THING TO HAPPEN TO YOU IN MUSKOGEE?
“Meeting my fiancee. She was born and raised out of town, and she came up to work at the day camp.”
HOW WOULD YOU SUM UP MUSKOGEE IN 25 WORDS OR LESS?
“Great friendly town which has continuously improved. It’s getting better every day.”