I havent written in so long…I’ve been very busy in a good way. I love what I do. The fact that i get the opportunity to work for God and His church every day is incredible to me. I am still in awe of it. I love the feeling that I am right where I am supposed to be. My wife Janae told me the other day how she loved walking into the classroom every day of the school year, and even when its tough she loves it, because its what God created her for.
There is no feeling in the world like knowing your doing what you were created to do. Wow! God is so good.
I was thinking the other day, if you want to know what it looks like to help someone you should have been at our Royal Family Kids Camp. Every year, for the last three anyway, we have had the priviledge of inviting several foster kids to enjoy a great camp absolutely free. We had right at 80 campers this year. This is no ordinary camp, thats for sure. This camp is made specifically to cause the campers to feel like they are royalty.
All the campers here, are from foster care, so they have either been abused or neglected, so they come with all kinds of needs and issues. We love them. We love everything about them. They are wonderful kids, with positive futures. We registered them at one of our campuses and then put them on limo buses and took them on a 30 minute ride over to another campus, where all the counselors and volunteers were waiting with signs with their name on it welcoming them to camp. As they come off the bus, still reeling from the fact that they were riding in a limo, their faces light up, as they see the smiling faces of people who are meeting them for the first time and accepting them, and treating them as if they are princes and princesses.
At the camp, we have two sets of volunteers we call grandma and grandpa, and aunts and uncles, these people love the kids and connect with them by writing encouraging notes to them all through the camp. (this helps these kids embrace the family construct which they have learned not to trust).
We took them on a trip to the zoo, and the zoological society scholarshipped everyone for the day. It was a great time and a great blessing. We had swim times in our Jr. Olympic size swimming pool, and a full on Carnival in our Gym.
They rode horses, went to chapel services, and had an all around blast. There is one thing we love to do….we throw them a birthday party, I mean the best one you have ever seen, heard of, or even thought about. Each camper received a cake and presents for their b-day. (i don’t have time to explain all the reasons this is so important, but you can imagine). We had a whole host of Disney type charecters who performed and interacted with the campers, it was incredible!
Then we had a special day for the girls and for the boys. It culminated in a gala for the girls, where they dressed up in formals, and had a fine dining experience. They were escorted in on the red carpet in fashion show style, all given a tierra and a friendship bracelet. They enjoyed this so much, because they had etiquette classes earlier in the day, and were getting to practice what they had learned. It was truly beautiful, and they brimmed with confidence and joy.
The boys, had what we called, “knights of the king” bonfire. It was a great boyhood memory. They were gathered around the bonfire with painted faces grunting and yelling, and getting excited about being a knight for the king. “A knight is loyal.” They would say. “I knight rights wrongs!” they would yell. It ended with the leader standing in front of the bonfire and asking them to accept the challenge to be a knight for the king. He said, “who will accept this challenge.” A wonderful thing happened, the boys spontaneously errupted in unified chorus, “I’ll be a knight for the King!” It was a great moment.
The last thing we did and do every year, is what we call the “tree ceremony.” We have two healthy trees that are growing now and we just added our third. These trees are representative of hope. We have the counselors set down with their campers. Our ratio is one counselor to two campers, this is what makes the camp effective. They talk about past bad memories, and they tell them to put them on a piece of paper just between them and God, and we all gather around the hole thats been dug for the planting of the new tree. We say this week you have had the chance to make some new positive memories, and this an opportunity for you to say I am burying these past negative memories and they will not hold me back. Then we allow them all to bring their notes and throw them in the hole. Then we plant the tree atop the old memories, and we send them home with a picture book, of all the fun memories they had at camp. It may not sound like a big deal to you, but it is to them. We had one little girl who came to camp for the second time. Her counselor noticed she did not have a note. She asked her where her note was, and the little girl responded, I don’t need to do it this year, I buried my negative past last year, I don’t need to do it again. Thats called forgiveness, thats powerful.
So if you want to see what it looks like to help someone, look at this. 80 campers and over 150 volunteers, and our church and many individuals and busniesses caring enough to treat some unfortunate kids like they’re worthy to be treated.
Its a beautiful thing, you gotta love it. Foster care is a real issue in our nation, abuse and neglect are serious problems. I wonder if there is any practical, non political, straightforward strategy to help the dhs, foster parents, group homes, and proactive parenting skills training or anything like that, in either Obama’s or McCains plans for the nation. I’m going to research it, or you could tell me if you know, something needs to be done.