South Florida religious conservatives and others on the political right, determined to transform the political landscape, have gone thorough their own boot camp.
They call themselves "effectivists."
Hosted by the nine-campus megachurch Calvary Chapel, they're building a road map for change by brushing up on public speaking, fundraising and effective advocacy.
The big take-away after intensive two-day training earlier this month? Conservatives spend too much time talking about their ideas and grievances and not enough time taking concrete steps to effect change.
Participants came from varied walks of life: home-schooled students who want to make a difference in the world, church-goers unhappy with what they see in government and society, and conservative candidates seeking keys to victory in liberal South Florida.
All are determined to do what it takes to win.
"The speakers and their zeal for this has increased my zeal," said Robert Milne, of Wilton Manors. "People need to stop watching TV and get involved."
Stuart Mears, of Wellington, said the $125 fee for the two days was a bargain. "I'm pumped up and my head's spinning all at the same time," he said. "The return on the investment was tenfold."
Their energy and determination is exactly what Ned Ryun was looking for.
Ryun, 40, son of former Kansas congressman and Olympic track medalist Jim Ryun, is founder and president of American Majority, a national political group that seeks out and trains people who believe in limited government and free enterprise. "We're unabashedly conservative," he said.
American Majority supplied most of the trainers, who led sessions on organizing, public speaking, effective advocacy and fundraising at Calvary's main campus in Fort Lauderdale.
Mears and Milne had different goals when they arrived, and when they were done.
Mears, 39, an educator and real estate agent, doesn't have a Calvary connection. He recently became a Republican Party committeeman and said his long-held dream of running for office — likely a seat in the state House of Representatives — now seems within reach as the youngest of his three children is starting school.
"I'm ready," he said.
Milne, 64, a retiree, is a congregant at Calvary, where the training was featured in the church newsletter and attendance was endorsed by the senior pastor, the Rev. Bob Coy.
"I'm going to volunteer for somebody's cause," Milne said during a break between sessions. "I'm going to pray about it and then, with the Lord, just figure out who has the best agenda that'll do the most."
The two men represent American Majority's twin efforts. One training track focused on activists who don't want to run for office. They're trained as "effectivists," who learn how to get things done instead of just carping about how they'd like different results.
The other track was aimed at campaign managers and candidates for local offices: city councils and commissions, school boards and state legislatures. Ryun said those people can implement change and they serve as a farm team of seasoned candidates who eventually can run for Congress.
"This is about winning," Ryun said. People who go through the training are called "effectivists," who learn how to get things done instead of just carping about how they'd like different results.
Attendees were repeatedly told to prepare for the long haul. Results will require winning "again and again and again and again," Ryun said. "This is not an overnight fix. This is going to be years and years of hard work."