It was his first overnighter at camp. He was overly excited…almost uncontrollable. He needed boundaries during the program time, so I grabbed an extra blanket I brought with me and laid it on the floor. I told him he could move all over that blanket. I had to laugh as I stood across the room and watched him tie the blanket around his neck like a cape and “fly” to me. Empowered by a strong imagination and possibly some pixie dust and this young one was off! I kept thinking, “that boy is just a pill away” as I watched him join in with group games and then excuse himself to fly around the room. He wasn’t a bad boy. He was hanging as tight as his little mind would let him. Loving one minute and scattered the next, he held himself together through the night and even fell asleep during our evening movie. One of our guys, carried him to the boys’ bunkhouse and then it hit us. We had no idea where his bunk was. There was not another made up bed. Somehow this little one had been dropped off without a pillow, a sleeping bag…nothing. The little blanket tied around his neck that I had given him earlier was his only cover. A bed was quickly made up with extra bedding we had with us. In the morning, we gave him a hygiene kit we brought with us. We also noticed he didn’t have a change of clothes. My husband headed to Walmart and picked up an extra outfit. The day carried on and this first time camper had a great day! Yes, he stretched our camp team. His behavior was always at an extreme—completely helpful or obstinate to the point of violence as he dug into my arm with his nails when I retrieved him from a dangerous perch. Good thing I grew up with brothers! At the end of the day, he was picked up and I think he had a great time at camp.
We are now halfway through our camp season and this little boy along with our other campers have taught me a lot about the children we are giving opportunities to through Empower Youth. I’m learning these children are full of emotions: fear, anticipation, joy, anger, curiosity, and excitement. These children want to do new things but at the same time they are afraid as they walk into new situations. All of our children want to please and make their parents and their camp counselors proud. Every time I see them accomplish a new task or make it through a new milestone, like staying a night away from home or passing the swim test at camp, my heart leaps. Our children are becoming confident. Our children are becoming aware that they can accomplish new tasks. Our children are laughing and loving life! And isn’t that what empowerment is all about? When you give a child freedom to seek knowledge presented in a new way… when you allow them a break from the mundane… even when they can just have the freedom to go through the food line twice and get extra mac and cheese… when you can let them be a kid again… that’s empowering them to dream bigger. I love camp. Kids grow in maturity at camp. Kids see a new world and add experience and achievement to their life resume.
We still have a few weeks of camp to go and we still have a balance owed at our camp. If you would like to help, Empower Youth will not turn your money down! Simply click on the “DONATE NOW” link to the side and shake some pixie dust!