In Their Own Words II
Reflections on camp
Royal Family KIDS camp season is here! Throughout the summer, foster children across the country between the ages of 6 and 12 will arrive at campgrounds bursting with love, grace, and tons of FUN! As we enter this exciting season of the year and all throughout this week, we’ll share with you reflections from Royal Family KIDS camp volunteers. Please enjoy!
How did you get involved with RFK?
I first heard about Royal Family KIDS when Jacob Roebuck gave a testimony at Rock Harbor Church about his experience as a camp counselor. It was personal and heart breaking, and I felt a connection since I was already acquainted with child abuse. So even though it wasn’t my home church, I decided to apply.
What did you expect from the week? Did it turn out as expected? What was different?
As a Psychology major, I came into this with some familiarity of the effects of child abuse and the different types of abuse. I felt that the training provided by Royal Family KIDS was more thorough and helpful than my classes, and my first year I was actually mentally prepared for much worse. I thought it would be a difficult week and that the kids I was assigned to as a counselor would have meltdowns and sensory overload … and hate me. Although this does happen at camp, my first year was pretty easy. I was paired with a sweet, easy going eleven- year old girl named *Jenna who appeared to have a pretty stable living situation. She didn’t possess the best self-esteem and that was probably because she didn’t have many opinions and perhaps wasn’t accustomed to having a voice. And, I just wondered why she was there—what was her story? What happened in her life to bring her into the foster care system? She was so sweet! My heart broke for these kids who have been victims of so much pain and chaos.
What stood out most from camp week?
This past year I had a little bit more of a ‘behind the scenes’ role, and what stood out to me the most, was the magnitude of team effort and what it takes to make camp happen. Camp is such a huge operation, but everyone does the job faithfully and with little coaxing. There’s no one role that’s more important than another, and the different areas of camp need each other. There are so many different teams and activities, and everyone is so helpful and flexible. It’s a beautiful picture of ‘the church’ in action! We have young, old, and a variety of talents being used—all for one common purpose.
Any special story of a camper that touched your heart?
There was one bright little girl in particular that I connected with this past year. She was curious about everything stage-related and kept popping up backstage after the skits and before the puppet shows. She could tell me about the unspoken things happening in the skits and we ended up letting her help us with the props and the third puppet in the puppet shows. I was also privileged to tuck her in at night, discuss stories with her, and take her prayer requests. She was a very happy kid all week. At the end of the camp week when her foster parent came to pick her up at the church, she was sobbing and said “I want to go back to camp!” I may not have had the opportunity to connect with many of the kids this past year, but I know we’ve made a difference in her life and that camp was meaningful to her on many levels. I’m hoping that she gets a mentor so we can continue the work that was started!
What has brought you back to serve so many years?
At the end of the camp week, I had so much passion for these foster children and was so impressed by all that this ministry does, that I thought “how can I NOT do this again?!” So I came back again the next year and the next year … and have now been involved with Royal Family KIDS for ten years. I will keep coming to camp and mentoring club until God steers me in a different direction. For me, it’s something I have a burdened heart for, and it’s also a place where I can use my talents for God’s kingdom—talents I thought would just be hobbies in the past and wasn’t sure how I’d use them or if I’d ever use them in meaningful ways. It’s opened the door for me to use my God-given talents for a cause that I’m passionate about … giving our modern orphans HOPE.
Kelly Barnhart, RFK camp volunteer – Rock Harbor Church
*The name was changed for protection purposes