It is so hard to adequately express what Royal Family Kids Camp is like, but I am going to try. My dh and I volunteer at this camp for kids in the Foster Care system because we feel called to it. We get these abused, neglected, battered, precious kids for a week and for the whole week we get to tell them that we love them no matter what but we also get to tell them that Jesus loves them and has a plan for their lives. It is an amazing thing to see the light ignite in their eyes at the thought of someone loving them just for who they are.
The kids arrive on Monday morning after we have been there for a day getting ready. We decorate the rooms and make name signs with the meaning of their names on it. We pray and play together as a group and become family. When the kids arrive we greet them by name and holler and sing. It is pretty fun. :-) We introduce ourselves and try to get a read on what they are like. Some kids don't want to be there, some don't want to be touched, and some just don't care. They have been moved around so much that it is just one more time they have to pack a bag and go to a strange place.
One of my campers had been there last year, in my room, and the other was a first timer. Out of the six girls in our room, only one had been to camp before. They were all 7 and 8 yo. None of them seemed to fazed by being in a strange place with people they had never met before. That always strikes me as odd. My own children would be scared out of their minds to have to do this, but these kids are used to moving around a lot.
Not ten minutes after we were in our room, one of my girls punched another. That was just a glimpse of the week to come. Later that day, she destroyed something belonging to someone else. She was a challenge to say the least.
Our days are scheduled and the same every day. We get pool time, chapel time, free time for arts and crafts and woodworking, hikes, and we eat. We eat a lot! ;-)
By the end of the first day, one of my girls was calling my "Mommy". It was heart-wrenching. By the end of the week, three of them were calling me "Mom". They were so excited to have someone to call Mom. How could I say no?
My other girl ended up being one of the toughest campers this year. She was very violent and didn't care about consequences. She scratched another camper in the face and left marks. She punched and kicked three of her fellow roommates, she yelled at just about everyone, and cussed at us. Besides that, she injured an adult that was helping me and she injured me. I have bruises and scratches on my arm and bruises on my legs. She was kicking, scratching, and squeezing us. She was so injured that some thought she was beyond repair. I guess that's why they put an 8yo in a mental hospital.
My heart breaks for her. She stole my heart and broke it many times over. I love her so much.
If you want to make a difference in a kids life, check out Royal Family Kids Camp and volunteer. How do we know that it makes a difference? Three of our former campers came to our welcome home to say hi to us. One was twenty years old and on her own doing well. She remembered her time at camp and wanted to say hi to us. Another one was still in school and finally getting the surgery she needed to fix her cleft palate. Her smile at seeing us was incredible. She went to each of us and hugged us. The third was the youngest and her smile never left her face. She was still beautiful and doing great! There have been others that have come back to see us and they all say that they still have the memory books we made them and still think about camp. It is a worthy endeavor to love the least of these.
I don't think I can talk anymore about camp, because it is raw and my heart is torn. For now, I am going to love on my own kids and pray that they never feel the heartache that these kids have. But also that they will give of themselves for others that have.