In case you haven't heard of Royal Family Kid's Camp - it is a camp for children, ages six through eleven, who have been in the foster care system. There are multiple camps around the country. The goal is to create a fun and safe atmosphere with games and activities at camp and to make each and every little guy or girl feel special, cherished, and most importantly, feel loved.
Ever since I was little I remember when people asked me what I wanted to be when I grow up, I would always say "I don't know, but I know I want to help people." I first signed up last year, thinking that I would change a child's life, or at least their week. But, I had no idea that she would change mine.
I remember the first time I stood on the side of the road holding up my sign with my campers name on it, waiting for the kids to arrive, I was so nervous. What if she doesn't like me? What if we don't click? I was absolutely insane for thinking that. My little girl got off the bus and immediately gave me a hug, and that is how I knew we were going to have a good week.
We continued to bond all week, by staying up all night long talking, spending every second together - either swimming, doing the high ropes course, zip-lining, fishing, canoeing, tubing, art and crafts, or her personal favorite gaga ball. I even slept in my lawn chair all week because she wanted me to hold her hand all night long. We created a bond and I knew at the end of the week it would be close to impossible to give her back to her foster family.
At camp we have a birthday party, and for some kids, that is the only birthday party they will ever have. We also have a carnival and a talent show. We are outside all week with no air conditioning, not the best showers, and I even slept with a spider above my head all week, but when I see kids who never smile, laughing and having a good time - it makes it worth it. There is nothing better than seeing so many kids who have been broken and torn down having such a great time and having the chance to be a kid.
At the end of the week, we write letters to our camper and they write a letter to us. My little girl, wrote "Dear Chloe, She has been there for me. Thank you for teaching me how to be sassy and thanks for teaching me that I am somebody. I love you" While tears immediately came to my face she said "Here, put your sunglasses on so no one see's you crying"
We got off the bus and we both stared crying - not knowing the next time we may see each other. She started sobbing and asking if I could adopt her and be her new mommy. And my heart shattered into even more pieces. We made matching necklaces and bracelets and we made a promise that we could keep them forever (mine hangs on my mirror in my car), and I told her that I would pray for her every day. After a good 20 minutes of crying, we had to part ways - and I haven't seen her since.
On my drive home, I began to wonder what it's like for these kids, they have endured more in their lives than I have at nineteen years old. The stories I have heard at camp are heart breaking, and I wish there was a way to make sure these kids don't ever have to go through anything terrible again. But, unfortunately, we cant. We can, however, make sure they have an awesome week at camp, and make sure they know God is always with them during any scary thing that they might experience. A little buddy heard a big buddy talking about not having any friends and she said "Don't worry, we're all a family here". Which makes me feel so good that she is getting the message that we all love and care about every single one of the kids at camp.
I think so many of us often just think about ourselves, we are selfish. We are so caught up in ourselves that we forget that there are so many people in this world that are in need. Or maybe, we want to help, but just aren't sure how. All year long our awesome directors work hard to make sure these kids have the best week of their life. It takes about $30,000 to send 70-80 kids to camp each year. Where they get 5 days to be a kid and not have to worry about being put down or scolded for just being them. If you, or anyone you know is interested in helping out please let me know!!! We are always looking for people to help at camp, or you can even donate. Whether it is $1 or $100 - your donation is appreciated. If you can't donate, or come to volunteer at camp, please just pray for them.
The link for donations is: https://fundrazr.com/links/e1FR1f?ref=sh_52WTcb