“The greatest legacy one can pass on to one’s children and grandchildren is not money or other material things accumulated in one’s life, but rather a legacy of character and faith.” ~Billy
Two Special Campers and Great Big Faith
Jason and I serve as directors of the Royal Family KIDS Portland camp. This past year, we received an email from our child placement coordinator in regards to two siblings who came to our camp for the first time in 2017.
Before presenting the email from her, here’s a little background on the campers. These kids had been neglected for at least three years before being removed from their homes. When *Johnny was first found, he had not attended school for three years, as he couldn’t read. He had been taking care of his two younger siblings. His sister *Amy had been the ‘mama’ to her younger sibling. The children had experienced years of watching domestic violence and drug abuse alongside trafficking. In fact, on their application it said that Johnny has reoccurring nightmares about his father kidnapping him and taking him to Mexico.
At camp, these children were nothing but kind, loving and joyful. It was incredible to watch them experience things for the first time. Johnny is in the fifth grade and had never been in water prior to camp. He had expressed his fear of going into the water. His counselor Tim, was well aware but in no time at all, had Johnny feeling comfortable in the shallow end of the pool.
Johnny also went horseback riding at camp that year. After riding, Johnny kept holding up his hand proclaiming “This hand touched a horse!”
Amy was a doll. One day at camp, she had some bad stomach issues and was resting in the nurse’s office. We made sure Amy had special snacks and attention knowing that she is the one who always takes care of her siblings, and there isn’t anyone to tend to her when she’s ill. Throughout the week, Amy would run up to me and give me huge hugs. And every chance she had, Amy would take the opportunity to hug and love on Tim—her brother Johnny’s counselor.
Below is the email we received from the child placement coordinator who had followed up with Johnny and Amy’s DHS caseworker in regards to the kid’s experience at camp.
The caseworker was very complimentary about camp and the impact that it had on Johnny and Amy. The kids are both counting the days until next year’s camp. When camp ended that summer, Johnny exclaimed “360 days until next camp!” The children made the caseworker listen to the mp3 player songs and look through their memory books. Johnny told her about his counselor, “How can it be that after only knowing him for five days I love him … really love him?” Amy asked her, “Is it true, am I really a daughter of Jesus and am I precious to him?” The worker answered “yes.” Amy then said “Then I know who my father really is.”
I wanted to make sure the caseworker had the dates of camp for the upcoming year. She conveyed that it will lift Johnny’s spirit when she tells him they spoke and about the plans to have he and Amy back to camp.
Jason knew that Johnny was very distraught on the last day of camp when he had to leave and go back home. He was inconsolable for a long period of time. The caseworker said that he was not nearly this distraught when he was removed from the home. The affect that camp had on these two campers left an indelible impression on the caseworker. She believes these two kids haven’t ever known that much love, attention, acceptance, and fun. She was clearly moved by the experience.
I want those reading our story to be encouraged by the profound and positive difference our camp makes on individual lives. The ripple effect alone is totally amazing.
There’s a great deal of faith that goes into each camp year knowing that God will touch every child and their experiences during that one fateful week.
Jason and Angie Mitchell, RFK Directors in Portland, Oregon
*camper names changed for child protection