Today is another hot summer day and I was bored so here I am sharing an incredible experience with you.
During the new year, I went on a kids’ camp for children with difficult background such as abuse and neglect. This camp aims to provide a safe week of happy memories for children coming from a background of abuse and neglect. It also has a format of 1:1 ratio (buddy and camper) which means we can direct all our attention to one kid. During this camp we ALLOW each child to feel safe, accepted and loved, VALUE each child as God’s Creation, created with a purpose, BUILD a sense of worth and confidence in every girl and boy, HELP children develop important life skills, in communication and decision making, GIVE each child a sense of hope and a new outlook on life and PROVIDE positive adult role models. I’m not saying it is easy. This camp was such a big challenge for me. Being exposed to so many children with behavioural issue was mentally challenging. It get even harder when some of them opens up to you and tells you bits of why they are at the camp. “Because the caretaker made me” or “my dad is in prison”.
On the first day with the kids, I was super excited to meet my camper but nervous as well because I wasn’t sure what to expect. She was a very active person and also very energetic. She is easily influenced by others. During the activities, she had fun and we got on rather well. It was 9pm and the 4 buddies from my cabin including me were trying to put our campers to bed and get them to settle down, but one camper was having trouble because she misses her ‘nan’ and we had to get a staff to be her substitute and eventually they all went to bed at a reasonable time. This meant we had some time to ourselves to do photo albums and also shower.
Day 2 comes, and my camper has made a new friend with a girl (Shae) in our cabin. Shae is strong-willed and most of the time my camper would hang out with her including going to activities, especially the trampolines without my knowledge. By this stage, every camper in the cabin had band together to defy the four buddies which made it extra hard. The worse thing was to get them settled and into bed. They wanted to party instead and ask question that were valid like why are the other kids still outside when we have to be inside and getting ready to bed. We had a lot of trouble putting them to bed and this was the night I found the toughest mentally, emotionally and physically.
From that day onwards, it went downhill. My camper started running away from me and avoiding me. Although, I believe this was the result of me putting my foot down and making sure the boundaries are clear and that there will be consequences for inappropriate behaviours. With that in mind, I have been advise to pick my battle. Therefore, I didn’t tell her off for every single thing that she did wrong. I tried to avoid that because they have come from that background and it’s not pleasant to tell someone off, especially children (because I have a soft spot for them). So by the end of the week, although I was physically alright, I was tired and emotionally and mentally drained. I was glad I’d survived the camp and that it was over. I did question myself whether I was gonna do this camp again. It was like going to ‘motherhood training school’.
Being rejected by my camper felt terrible because you love them so much yet they continue to push you away. When she was leaving camp, I felt the overwhelming love that I still had for her and was overcome by tears. This reminded me of God. Many of us constantly rejects Him and it makes Him feel sad. No matter what wrong we have done. He still loves YOU the same. The love of God is unconditional, just like any parents’ love for their child with the only exception being that humans have flaws and we can fail but God is perfect and He will always LOVE you UNCONDITIONALLY.