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Archive for the ‘camp’ Category

The Foster Child’s Psalm       

Psalm 40:1-3  

                                                        

I waited patiently for the Lord to help me, and he turned to me and heard my cry.
He lifted me out of the pit of despair, out of the mud and the mire.                                       He set my feet on solid ground and steadied me as I walked along.
He has given me a new song to sing, a hymn of praise to our God.
Many will see what he has done and be amazed.
They will put their trust in the Lord.

 

I have had a limited involement with RFKC through the years. I was on their curriculum committe for 4 years; helping to revise, edit and write materials for their camping ministry; was a guest speaker twice at my friend Lance’s E. TN camp and did a Birthday Box project for them one year.

Little did I know how moving this past week of training and camp observation would be for me.

A RFKC is made up of campers referred by Social Workers in the local Health and Human Services department (DFACS for those of us who live in Georgia.) Specifically, eligible kids are abused/neglected children “in the system.” The nurses at camp told us during training, that most, if not all the kids are on mental health/psychiatric drugs for anxiety, depression, ADD, ADHD, sleeplessness and/or bed-wetting. One of the nurses said some of the kids are on such powerful does, that if she, an adult took as much, she doesn’t know how she would even be able to function- much less a little 7-11 year old such as the RFKC campers.

All of the children I observed were from group foster homes or traditional foster families. Two of the kids were in foster homes in which the parents were trying to adopt them. One little girl had been in five different foster situations since camp last summer. All of them have been taken away from their biological parents because of some level of abuse.

Yet, to look at them, especially as the week went on- it seemed for the most part, like just a normal group of kids having fun at summer camp. Kids can be very resilient!

The distinctive of RFKC is they are “in business” to create positive memories for abused and neglected kids. And that they do very well- in a Chrisitian, biblical setting. Here are some of the special ways in which they create memories:

Everybody’s Birthday party  Many foster kids miss out on regular childhood markers such as birthday parties and gifts. One supper at camp each year is a decorated birthday party meal, complete with cake and candles. This year, following supper, there was a birthday carnival complete with an inflatable slide and climbing tower. That night as the kids settled in, each child found a birthday box full of gifts on their bed.

~The Variety Show    Most foster kids never get an opportunity for lessons, involvement in enrichment opportunities or sports. They don’t have “talents.” At camp, however, counselors work with the kids to create fun talents. We saw kids do puppet shows, magic tricks, sign language, tumbling, “marching” and singing a created song as counselors and staff wildly cheered and aplauded. The kids felt like stars!

The Girls’ Tea Party was so much fun- and included lots more than just tea. All afternoon the girls had gotten their hair fixed, nail polish for nails and dressed up in cut-down prom dresses and princess costumes. At the tea, they were escorted in by one of the male staff, dressed in a suit, as their entrance was announced. They also had their picture taken with their “escort.” In the meantime, the boys were meeting with a university soccer coach, running drills and having fun. They were given a university soccer jersey as well.

Graduation ceremony and gifts; a CD player and CDs of the praise and worship we had sung all week, pom-poms for the girls, soccer balls for the boys, photo albums featuring each camper, a duffle bag and a special storybook chosen for them by the founders of RFKC, Wayne and Diane Tesch…and all the 11 year olds who cannot come back to camp because of age receive roller skates, helmets and pads.

The nurture and physical attention given to these campers will go a long, long way toward achieving the goal of creating positive memories in the hearts of these children. I can’t wait until we get started on our own Cherokee County version next year. Watch for a new tab above, once we have set a definite date.

 

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Saturday morning

I’m sitting at the computer in my typical after camp stupor- tired and dirty- but oh so glad to be home! We got home last night, but I just got my car unpacked. And now I’m as hot and sweaty as if I were still at camp! Even worse though, now I’ve got mountains of clothes, sleeping bags, tennis shoes, jackets and bedding to wash. Not to mention tons of office supplies, personal items, lost and found doo-dads and stuff to find a place for. But…the satistfaction of a wonderful week of camp once again accomplished makes it all worthwhile. Even though I’ve been in camping for a long, long time, it still amazes me how much ministry and growth can happen in just one week.  Here are just a couple of items that are running through my mind as I’m trying to muster the energy to get in the shower and find my toothbrush: 

The canoe trip with 9 middle school boys, my son Jason and me; Jason is so good, kind and patient with the boys and with me- I’m not anywhere near as strong as he is and since we share a canoe- he does 75% of the work, while I do 25%…

The birds singing in the morning during Morning Watch; Are they singing praises to the Lord?

70 campers and staff spread out over the games field with Bibles and devotion books; spending a few quiet moments with the Lord- that’s when I can really hear the birds and wonder at the beauty of God’s creation all around me…

Yummy camp food! Seems like an oxymoron unless you know the cooks: my husband and my sister-in-law who both love cooking and are good with kids…

Our camp staff 4th of  July parade;  we were the most rag-tag, creative, funny crew of patriotic costumed people I have ever seen. I laughed until my stomach hurt!

The faces of the kids as the staff came down the “parade route”- it was like we were different people of whom they were suddenly shy. Yet they were excited to wave at us and cheer. It was sort of a serendipitous moment that I didn’t quite expect…

The last night: groups of campers, in small circles with their counselors, praying for one another, some tears-but joy for what we had experienced in God’s presence and his “outdoor classroom” all week…

Oh well, there’s so much more- but my shower (and the washer and dryer) beckon me!

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I’ve created a new page called Camp Primo. See it above? Click on it and you can find out more than you ever wanted to know about it!

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Camp Primo: starring Nora and Lydia

 This gives you a flavor of all the fun. And this was just the first night!!

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camp-primo-logo.gif

It’s finally here! I’ve been looking forward to this since the day Nora, our first granddaughter, was born! Today, our two campers will arrive for two days of Camp Primo* fun! It’s Grandparents/Granddaughters camp! Hooray!

Lydia, who is 17 months and Nora, who is 3 years old will be our campers and do we have fun in store for them! They will be arriving at 6 P.M. wearing their Camp Primo shirts and bringing all their camp gear! Then as soon as we can get rid of the parents (j/k), the fun will begin. Tonight’s schedule includes “Fun on the Deck.” We’ll be making fabulous camping scenes out of fun foam. It will be great.

Also up tonight: learning our Camp Primo theme song, hearing and exploring a Bible Story with our “Help Zaccheus Find Jesus” interactive poster, win prizes and snacks at PaPa’s Fishing Booth. The highlight of the evening, however, will be stories and snacks in the tent. We’ve got a great tent already set up in our living room. Hopefully the campers and camp staff (Grandmama and PaPa) will all be sleeping in the tent. We’ll see how all that works out, though. We’ve also got a great video to watch through our tent flaps; a favorite of Grandmama’s when she was a little girl. It’s an episode from the Wonderful World of Disney entitled “The Yellowstone Cubs.” Here’s what it’s about:

  When young cubs, Tuffy and Tubby are separated from their mother, chaos and calamity are turned loose on vacationers and campers with hilarious results. A madcap animal escapade from the Disney wizards.

Sounds good, dosn’t it? I think our two little babies will like it- or at least fall asleep while we’re watching it!

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*Camp Primo’s name in English refers to someone or something of highest quality or value; the best, number one. This of course refers to the most important person in our lives: Jesus!

In Spanish, primo means cousin.

So, Camp Primo is a camp for cousins that puts Jesus first!!

For those of you who know a little bit of Spanish, I noticed too that our camp which has a masculine name in Spanish seems to only have primas (female cousins) in attendance. However, we are just looking forward to the day that Camp Primo will have boy cousins too!! **wink-wink**

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Naps Are Good

Nothing feels better than a real nap. Hmmmm….

PreCamp Staff training and the “after-show” of getting all our plans, details and paperwork together was not physically draining- but by the time I got home Sunday afternoon and did just a bit more finishing up on the computer- I was exhausted!

I don’t know how long I slept today- maybe an hour or so- but that couch was comfy and when I fell asleep- it was deep!

Anyway, there’s nothing like a nap. I hope you can get one soon!

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Yikes, these last couple of days have been crazy. Step into the whirlwind:

Sunday 

Monday: can’t remember it….Oh yeah, it was Memorial Day.

Tuesday morning: worked like crazy on PreCamp Staff Training stuff (see
Camp Rocks tab, above.) There is a lot of detail in a week long camp and the staff training is a big indicator of our success in organization and creativity for the week. In this year, particularly, I am walking by faith, not by sight!

afternoon: Square Peg meeting (see Square Peg Ministries tab, above); for a little-bitty organization, we sure do have lots to decide on, figure out and talk through. Jason was not feeling well during the meeting.

evening: fun celebration dinner for our Upward Basketball and Cheerleading commissioners. I know the season has been done for 13 weeks- but it was the best we could do! Thanks to our anonymous donor who made our get-together possible! We ate at California Pizza Kitchen- loved it!

Wednesday morning: worked like crazy again on PreCamp Staff Training stuff

lunch: great lunch meeting at Roswell United Methodist Church and with Unite! folks. Great panel discussion about the ministry, outreach possibilities and responsibilities regarding immigrants. I personally was very blessed by rubbing shoulders with people doing similar work as Square Peg is doing. More about this in a future blog.

afternoon: I was in the Twilight Zone. More about this in a future blog.

evening: last (678) middle school outing for me at Restoration Church of God. I was late (see Twilight Zone, above). We ate at Cici’s Pizza for supper. Went to Startime Entertainment and actually had a very fun time. We had been assigned an event host who led us in team competition in mini-golf, Daytona 500, skeeball contest, basketball shoot-out and then we all got to ride the go-karts- twice. Plus we had lots of points left on our game cards and the kids got to pick out a bunch of little plastic toys at the prize counter. For a kind of run-down event facility that is pretty uneven in its service and facility upkeep- we actually had a really good time. Way to go Startime!

Later: back to church for a short time of praise and worship, discussion and prayer in our (678) room for the last time ever. It was kind of sad. I have had the best (678) leaders for the past 5 years. Many thanks and lots of heartfelt love to Jen and Ed and Miss Staci. I love you.

Even later: one last moment of doodoodoodoo (that’s supposed to indicate the final credits of my Twilight Zone experience that day.)

Thursday (today): this is why I felt like I’ve been run through a wringer. Morning: shopping for Kids Club supplies. On the phone (like crazy); trying to touch base with folks I am expecting and hoping will be at the PreCamp Staff Training this weekend. Lots of long but good conversations. Noon: finally get to our ministry apartment noon to meet Kristen. She and I spend the next two and a half hours setting up, cleaning and running around (like crazy)- getting ready for our Kids Club (elementary ministry) and Mealtime  (middle school ministry.)

3:30-7:30 PM Kids Club (about 30 kids & 6 leaders jammed into one and a half  small rooms with no A/C in one of the rooms) Take elementary kids home (Jason and Kristen), pick up middle school kids (all of us.) Take middle schoolers to Cici’s Pizza- wasn’t I just here yesterday with another group of middle schoolers? Yes, and this is not even the Twilight Zone anymore! Eat supper and then have a “planning meeting” with our kids about upcoming summer events. Yikes! Can I tell you that Hispanic apartment boys have an EXTREMELY difficult time focusing on anything, much less a meeting on the sidewalk outside Cici’s Pizza??  Finally get the middle schoolers home. I get home at last.

Later: work on PreCamp Staff training stuff like crazy. I am excited about this year’s vision and opportunity for camp. It will be a life-changing week- guaranteed. God has given me a full heart about this year’s ministry. It’s just hard to get busy adults on board. However, God has never let me down- not one time- about staff or finances regarding camp. A lot of times, it is right to the last minute before I see the provision. But guess what, that’s when I needed it anyway- so I just thank Him for already having a full supply available for us at Camp Rocks this summer.

Midnite: Realized I have got to write in my blog. So I did!

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