“Relying on God has to start all over everyday, as if nothing has yet been done.”
~C. S. Lewis
Continue to have FAITH in Boise, IDAHO
When I think about camp, I can’t help but think about the faith and grace that God extends minute by minute to these children and our staff. I am amazed every year by how God moves us and changes us in so many ways. Our staff has story after story on how God shines through these children in big and small ways every year, but this particular story is one about a very special camper who showed us God’s intervention in the most unlikely of moments. We know—and remind each other every year, that God has a purpose and a plan for each life (young and old at camp), and boy did this plan involve a whole lot of hearts and tears.
This will be our 26th year of camp for southern Idaho. We have some pretty wild stories of behavior issues in the past, but we have never in those 26 years, had a behavior outburst quite like the one we had this past year. A sweet, young ten year-old we will call ‘Joe,’ came to camp last year. We had been warned about Joe from his foster family, caseworker, and everyone who knew him! The warnings were the same, “just expect you will have to send him home.” Little did that everyone know …at Royal Family KIDS Camp Idaho, we don’t send kids home.
Fast forward to ‘after’ camp, when we came to discover that Joe had been misdiagnosed with several things—some accurate and some not so much, and was subsequently being medicated. Joe has been under careful treatment with a psychiatrist, psychologist, and his many supporters of his foster family and caseworker to help his sweet mind conquer challenges.
Joe is a ten year-old who is developmentally 5 – 6 years old, all encapsulated in a body of about a 16 year old. Standing about 5’10” and weighing in at about 180, Joe is not a small camper.
It’s Thursday—the night before the campers go home. Looking back on the week, we have had a few minor behavioral issues and some close calls with Joe going off the deep end. His counselor was fantastic, as was the team of others that gave their support that week. They had special times together with Joe and the other kids such as walks, runs, games, talks, songs—everything that makes camp a special place for every kid. The teamwork and imaginative solutions seemed to come out of nowhere at times—and just in time, throughout the entire week. Joe however, was at wits’ end. The thought of having to go home, tired from the week, overwhelmed by several activities going on—sometimes all at once, had taken its toll. Joe was at the end of his rope. All of a sudden, Joe snapped over something we have yet to pinpoint. Large water jugs were tossed about like small toys, glasses were broken, a stop sign was broken in half—all part of anger and a ‘flip your lid’ behavioral release.These occurrences pushed every one of us to tears witnessing such a heart-wrenching display from this little human being trying to get it under control. At one point, I called the caseworker and foster mom for suggestions. While they were supportive and understanding, they too were at a loss and said “I think you should call the police. He is not to behave this way.” I prayed. We all prayed. We told the foster mom and caseworker “There are far more than us than him, I think we can wear him out and wait it out. I’m not calling the police. We’ve been telling this kid all week that no matter what, we will love you. And no matter what … God loves you. Such words would not make sense to a kid in the back of a police car. He hasn’t done anything illegal. It won’t make sense. We can keep him safe and we can wait it out.”
So wait it out we did. Imagine the worst possible scene with a camper, and about the best solution that can come out of it imaginable. A painfully emotional, spitting, hitting, kicking, screaming, destructive two hours later, Joe was actually beginning to collect himself and moving towards calm. Keep in mind during this time, Joe’s counselor Brian, was the utter enemy to be destroyed. He was punched, kicked, spit on, yelled at, hated …. you get the idea. Not a fun place to be for Brian. Brian was praying for his own sanity and collectiveness during this time. Both were pushed to extreme limits of what a heart can handle. So at the end of this absolute ‘flip your lid’ few hours, Joe takes a deep breath, confirms he is done. We offer him some water. Obviously exhausted and drained, Joe downs a large container of water and we ask him “Joe, what do you need?” Joe says, “I need Brian.” Of all the things we hope to have at happen at camp, it is the bond between a camper and the one person they know believes in them. Their one true ‘never give up on me’ ally at camp. The one guy who helps you play and helps you pray, and loves you even when you can’t love yourself. The tears were streaming out of everyone, but there were only smiles from Brian as he exhaustedly embraced Joe and lovingly helped him get ready for bed. Camp songs were sung. Prayers were prayed. Joe finished the day with a comment to his buddy “I do know that God loves me Brian, I’m sorry if I hit you or hurt you. Thanks for being my buddy. Can you make me a sandwhich?” THAT my friends, is what Royal Family KIDS is all about.
For His Kids,
Wendy Atkinson, Director RFK camp Boise, Idaho