Serena Lerma, a For The Children director in Barrington, IL knows firsthand how life changing 5 days at camp are for foster care children. She wrote the following letter explaining the impact of our work on the children and community.
I know the love the kids get to experience. I know the words of truth that get spoken over them. I’ve seen kids make memories that will last them a lifetime. So much of foster care is unfair to the kids in it, but For The Children elevates kids to a place where they know they are worthy and special.
My husband and I have been fostering two sweet sisters for the past 10 months. It has been one of the hardest and most beautiful things we’ve ever done. As soon as the kids came into our care, I told them about For The Children- about how there is this camp, called Royal Family KIDS Camp, that I love whose sole purpose is about loving THEM! They would tell random strangers (before COVID) that they were going to get to go to a kids camp! They were excited. But then with all the challenges that accompanied the pandemic, my Royal Family had to cancel the in-person camp and instead we delivered 85 care packages to our registered campers. The girls were happy to get some goodies, but even they knew it wasn’t the same. Then through a series of events, I became aware of a few camper openings for the Orland Park camp. I immediately thought of my girls and their 9-year old sister. See my girls have been separated from their sister for over a year. As someone who grew up with 3 brothers and a sister, I cannot imagine not sharing in life’s moments together. On top of not living in the same house, due to the pandemic, the sisters had not seen each other in over 4 months. I was so happy for them when I found out that all 3 were accepted to attend camp. I dreamed of the memories they would create and the fun they would get to share.
We pulled up to registration and immediately they spotted their sister. She was the first to arrive and we still had to wait in line to go through the check in process. You could literally feel the energy of them wanting to run to each other, so when I finally gave the OK - that’s exactly what they did. They ran to each other and hugged and told each other how beautiful they were. Pure. Joy. As they left to embark on their camp journey, excited does not describe what my girls felt knowing that they would get 5 days, and 4 nights of uninterrupted time with their sister. And on top of that, it’s at Royal Family Kids- one of the best places on Earth.
“We do not need to know the beginning of a child’s story, to change the ending.” - Fi Newood
Serena Lerma, Barrington, IL Chapter Director