A few short days ago, I returned from my fourth Royal Family Kids Camp, a camp for abused and neglected foster children. These children were exhausting, but also charming, silly, kind, and filled to the brim with a desire to be loved unconditionally. This year, my campers were as sweet as can be. My first camper and I bonded the most through hairstyle creations. She loved to do hair, and despite the fact that I had to walk around with ridiculous buns on my head or with a unicorn braid standing straight up, I loved watching her be so gentle with my hair. I think that giving her a motherly, nurturing role and allowing her to use positive touch was extremely healing for her. My other camper was more shy, but her guard came down when we went swimming. Nothing is sweeter than hearing pure, genuine laughter from a little girl. In the pool, her smile was contagious, and we had a blast playing catch with a beach ball or swimming for various diving sticks.
My two girls were extremely appreciative of this week. I received cute letters and pictures thanking me for camp and for being their counselor. I could clearly see how a week of unconditional love and undivided attention for these girls could be life-changing. However, that is not always the case with each camper. Sometimes, you give out every last drop of love and patience to your campers, and you barely see their hardened shells crack. Many times a camper will move placements throughout the year, so you never get to see them again—never knowing if all of your efforts even made a difference. That is why I believe Royal Family is one of the hardest mission trips I have ever been on. We work relentlessly throughout this week at camp, but may never see how that work transforms the lives of our campers. At other mission trips, it might be easier to feel like you made a difference. For instance, if you built a house or served food at a homeless shelter, the effects of your work are more tangible. Here at camp, we must be completely dependent on God to carry out the efforts made at camp. During this week, we plant a seed in each of these campers through messages of God’s power, strength, and love. Just by giving of our time, we hope to show our campers that they are valuable, that people care about them, and that God will turn their painful pasts into something beautiful.
My work at camp is done for the year, but God is just getting started. I may never see how God is transforming the lives of my girls and all of the campers, but I trust in the plans that he has for them. While even typing those words seems so cheesy, I can’t believe that God would allow these children to suffer physical, sexual, emotional abuse or neglect while other people, like me, have lived with families who love and care for them. I can’t imagine such an unjust God. Therefore, I have to trust that God will use their pain for good because I believe that God has intentions to use every person he places on Earth. For now, I’ll be praying for all the campers that came to Royal Family over the course of the year—asking that God continues to show love to these children and that they can find a safe home where they can prosper and grow.
Lots of love,