The summer camp experience can be truly transformative for a child. They have the opportunity to make new friends, try new activities, and spend time in nature. But what happens when camp ends?
Many of the children that come to Royal Family KIDS Camp have encountered moments they never deserved and harm that was never meant for them. There is nothing like seeing the twinkle in a young one's eyes returning during a week of undivided attention, love, and fun. To see these children feel moments of joy and peace is amazing. For The Children dedicates deep compassion, safety, and sincerity while also integrating Biblical values that assist in developing genuine relationships and experiences. It is because of these significant values that I felt confident with joining a chapter of volunteers to begin the For The Children experience.
Those that have gone through Royal Family KIDS Camp, both volunteers and campers alike, would likely tell you that one of the most difficult parts of the camp experience is saying ‘good-bye.’ Some campers are joyful and ready to go home to share their delightful experiences, while others have streaks of tears rolling down their faces. Those are the kids that express wanting to stay at camp forever, begging to be taken home by the volunteers instead of returning to their own homes. Those are the ones that grip your heart. Your heart feels as though it was broken in two from seeing their faces–full of pain and anguish – before waving them goodbye. I found myself asking, how can we keep the momentum of relationships and growth started at camp sustained throughout the year?
Thankfully, For The Children has Royal Family KIDS Mentoring. In order to really help a child recover from abuse and neglect, intervention must go both deep and wide. Five days of immersion at camp goes deep and breaks barriers – our mentoring programs go wide. Having dependable, monthly contact with the same, safe adults all year long has shifted from heartbreak to heart opening and healing.
For many, this mentoring program creates long-standing hope for volunteers both stepping into mentorship and those who are not. Volunteers that step into mentoring find camp to be the catalyst to their mentee/mentor relationship. From my experience as a volunteer at camp, I met a young girl and was able to spend time learning many of her likes and dislikes. I soon discovered that we shared certain activities of interest like board games, crafts, and the outdoors. I saw her all around camp and made sure to check in with her when I could. It was because of this rapport I had established with her that I felt comfortable and confident in accepting a mentorship position later on. As a mentor, the camp experience was what allowed me to gain trust quickly with her. I was able to teach her how to navigate, build, and maintain healthy relationships with those around her. On the other hand, for those individuals that are not stepping into mentorship, it brings hope that these young ones can have a chance at receiving more love, encouragement and support all year long.
Research shows that students who are in mentoring programs are:
- 59% more likely to earn better grades
- 52% less likely to skip school
- 81% more likely to participate in extracurricular activities
- 90% more likely to volunteer in their own communities
- 130% more likely to hold leadership positions
This opportunity is unlike anything I have experienced. Likewise, it will be an incredible and unforgettable encounter for everyone who participates in mentorship. Research shows even one school year of commitment makes a difference – and children from the most difficult situations benefit the most from mentoring.