Royal Family Kids Camp
A New Tradition for Wounded Souls
There is one thing I look forward to all year long. I anticipate. I get excited when the weather gets warmer. I anxiously await for the words to be asked "So....do you want to be a counselor again at RFKC?" I literally jump up and down inside and give an enthusiastic YES, and I'm not even a camper!!!!
So just what is Royal Family Kids' Camp?
They are the nation's leading network of camps for abused, neglected and abandoned children.
* Annually, 3.6 million cases of child abuse*, neglect or abandonment are reported in America.
* One of these victims dies every six hours due to that abuse*. But you can make a difference - through your support of Royal Family Kids' Camps.
* Royal Family Kids' Camps, Inc., is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt public charity. Donations and gifts are tax-deductible, as allowed by law.
Information Source: rfkc.org
Note:Campers cannot be displayed in photographs due to privacy laws.
Donate To Royal Family Kids Camp
Check out the website Royal Family Kids for a camp near you. Donate if you can. It costs $200 a child for camp, and the benefits last a lifetime!
The Structure Of Royal Family Kids Camp
All camps are unique, so I will strictly speak of my own experience. We try to keep as much structure in the day as possible, and interactions are 2 to1 meaning that there are 2 adults to every 1 child. The main reason behind this is for safety and security. These children have been abused by an adult in the past, so being alone with them could be very uncomfortable for them. All children are between 6 and 11 years old, and have been placed out of their homes due to neglect or abuse.
Directors: They are the backbone of the program and do far too many things that humanly possible. They are first contact for the Department of Child Services and help in keeping everything running smoothly.
Counselors: The primary persons in contact with the children are the counselors. They spend all week with the children (with a 1 hour break to decompress and discuss issues from the day with the director). It is an intense position to be in. Counselors walk the children through the awkward first day until the final tears goodbye.
Grandmas and Grandpas: They are always on hand to give a (side) hug, talk a child through their tears, give support to counselors, and generally on hand at any given time. I admire them because they often have physical problems of their own. They ignore these in order to give the children love.
Aunts and Uncles: They are usually available during big events, but do make an appearance during the week so the children feel comfortable with them. They provide relief for the counselors. (Hey a girl has to have a potty break right?)
Support Staff: This includes the nurse, psychologist, athletic director, and mission friends. Without them, a vital piece of camp would be missing.
Activities At Royal Family Kids Camp
The week starts with check-in. This is done on-site at the church sponsor. The actual location of the camp is not disclosed due to privacy. Caseworkers are kept in touch throughout the week, and they appreciate the need for safety. In some cases, the children need to be protected from family. If these family members should learn of the location, that could lead to unsafe consequences for the child and loss of integrity of the camp. Safety is the number one priority.
When the kids arrive at camp, we counselors go a bit goofy. We run and jump holding signs with our camper's name on it. We run after the bus as it pulls in. The energy level is high. Campers met their counselors and head to their bunks. Each cabin picks a theme for the week to decorate in. I'm not too sure about the men. They had deer heads on the wall. I know I wouldn't sleep too much with those things staring at me! We girls opted for a princess theme. The cabin was all pink and girly. Campers get their first big surprise of the week from the counselors. Gifts are waiting for them, usually a card welcoming them and some small toy or journal.
Each day starts with exercise. The activity director helps get energy flowing through various fun games. The kids particularly love the baseball game toward the end of the week. We slip-n-slide into home base!
Next is breakfast which is served family style. A mixture of grandmas, grandpas, counselors, and support staff are included in the seating for more interaction with the kids.
Breakfast Club follows with singing and a short lesson of the day. Each year a skit is performed that runs throughout the week. This year we performed the story of Ester.
Arts and Crafts are next along with swim time.
By this time, it is lunch then off to quiet time. Campers get a chance to wind down and take a nap.
Group games are next. We have a variety of activities, but this can vary by camp. Hiking, petting zoos, golf are just some of the things we do.
There is more singing and group time before dinner. Most of the kids start to wind down after dinner. We do provide the kids the opportunity to open up and pray if they ask at the prayer circle.
By the time the kids hit their beds, counselors are ready for a break. Grandmas and Grandpas come to share quiet time. I know that the girls have painted nails during this time. Usually I'm not aware of what they are doing. I'm just ready to decompress. Counselors get this time to discuss anything that has happened during the day. The kids hit you with some heavy information sometimes.
Photo Source: amazon.com
Child Abuse Resources
Showing Them Love
There are so many ways we demonstrate love to the kids. Every day we hand write personal notes to each kid at camp. The kids love getting mail!! A special gift is left on their beds each day from the present fairy. These can be just about anything. One year, a girl forgot her toothbrush, so everyone received toothbrushes from the fairy. The big gifts they receive are homemade quilts, backpacks full of school supplies, and teddy bears. This does not include the birthday party! We try to show these kids as much love as possible in one week, so we tend to go a little overboard!
An Inspirational Camp Song
The Birthday Party
The biggest event of them all is the birthday party. The girls pick out a dress from the donated prom dresses available while the boys dress in tuxes that are donated. The kids LOVE this event and sometimes leads to tears. You see many of these kids do not have birthday parties.
One little girl in particular had never had a birthday party. This camp was her only chance to have one. Some of the girls get a little emotional at this time. They feel shy, awkward, and excited all rolled into one. The kids are all escorted by limo to the party, boys first. When the girls arrive, the boys escort them in.
This year I had a girl who refused to be escorted in. She felt a little scared about the whole situation and clung to my back as I walked her into the party. She beamed as her name was announced!
A group birthday cake is made and we sing happy birthday to all of the kids. It is a formal affair, and the kids love it!!
Just when they think they have seen it all, they return to camp to take their dress up clothes off and head off to the real party. The kids walk in to bouncy houses, carnival games, clowns, balloons, a velcro jump, and they can win prizes in the games.
One little camper I worked with had a particularly hard time all week. She seemed to have a negative attitude and rarely smiled, but on this day she shined!! It was so wonderful to watch her beam from ear to ear and giggle whole heartedly.
Photo Source: amazon.com
Donate Your Old Dress Clothes And Prom Dresses
The kids love to play dress up for the birthday party. You can donate your old clothes to a good cause. The kids will appreciate it.
Reality hits as everyone returns to the sponsor church. The kids realize they must go back to their foster homes, and the counselors are reminded of the lives these children are returning to. I hope that all have great foster homes, but this is not always the case. I overheard my camper's foster mother state "ugh...you..I wish we had another week without you". I was so hurt for her. This child had been so wonderful all week, and I had to send her home to an environment that was less than ideal. I knew a little about the situation through the briefing at the beginning of camp by the director, but I was not prepared to hear that after a week of so much fun and love.
These kids melt your heart and creep into your thoughts throughout the year. I get excited each year when I hear who is coming to camp. I cannot help by smile thinking of them and awaiting the next year's camp.