royal family kids camp

Year #1(0)

To the greatest Royal family there is:

Can I just say; ain’t no tired like after camp tired when you haven’t done it for three years.

I’m on my second cup of coffee sitting in my California home base and just starting to truly think about everything that the this past week was.

As I shared in my devotion on Monday morning, I didn’t think I had all the things I needed. I was emotionally drained, tired, and honestly just didn’t think I had the ability to teach bible stories to kids.

It’s felt for awhile as if I’m walking among ruins. Like my life fell apart and I haven’t started building again.

But I was reminded that, for the most part, ruins still have a foundation.

We were starting from scratch this year.
And might have felt, a little bit, like we were walking among ruins.

But, what hasn’t changed, what remained and maybe evolved, was all of our whys.

I saw it in all of your faces as you were eagerly awaiting the kids to come up the mountain. I saw it in your dance moves at chapel and your animated conversations at meals. I saw it in the staffs faces sitting at breakfast club or helping with woodworking or walking another kid to the nurses station.

We may have been walking among some ruins, we may have been missing a few tables and maybe a dunk tank (though did anyone really need to be in that on Wednesday?).

At the end of the day though, the foundation, the heart of the matter was the same.

We were there for the kids.
And we were there for each other.

On Monday I challenged and reminded us to be where your feet are and that you had everything you needed.
Mostly, I was just preaching to myself.

I’m pretty busy at camp. My desire is to always be available to help, to be present and to help make transitions from place to place be the easiest I can.

But, knowing myself, I knew that there would be moments I’d just have to force myself to pause. One of those was on Wednesday when I sat at an activity table for 45 minutes making one of those beaded flower projects with a camper.

Another was when I went on the zip line first and stood across the way for an hour cheering on the LIT girls and counselors.

I could have easily not gone on the zip line, I could have easily sent someone else and then done all the logistics of getting the girls on. But, instead I looked at the girls and said, I’m scared, I don’t want to do this, but I’m going too.

And it was amazing.

I stood across the field for an hour listening to the LITs cheering each other on and it was just a beautiful present moment where all I was focused on was the girl coming down the zip line next.

We all had to do some hard things this week. Maybe it was engaging with a camper or figuring out how to make something when you didn’t have all the pieces. Or figuring out a job someone else used to do for years.

Our campers had to do some hard things this week. Maybe it was going in the zip line or calming themselves down when they were frustrated or making it across the swimming pool.

But what we did this week was create a place where those hard things felt manageable. What we did without knowing it was show campers what they could do by us just showing up again.

Right before the world shut down in 2020, I was in a musical. And I found out after it had gotten cancelled that my parents were going to drive up to Washington and see it. Because, to quote my mom, “She wanted to do a hard thing for her to remind me I could do hard things”.

And I thought of that this week. I thought of it when I was having a hard time being present or when I didn’t feel capable. I thought of it when I was tired and someone flagged me down to walk somewhere with them.

I know we all have stories and reasons why we do camp.

This year, for me, my why was a little different. It was to face a thing I didn’t think I was capable of anymore, because at the end of the day I love and believe in those kids more than I believed in my inabilities to do the damn thing at camp.

At the end of the day my love and belief in YOUR abilities was greater than my inabilities.

You all inspire me and push me on more than I can even comprehend. The ways you show up and jump in and speak life and love with your actions and your words to the kids we serve pushed me on each and every day.

I get asked a lot why I don’t just go to a camp in Washington.

And it’s because of you all.

You are my family.

You are my lighthouse.

Thank you for always welcoming me back home 💜

With love,

Miss Meg

hope is a verb, royal family kids camp

To my counselor: a letter

(A 2022 edit: to donate to camp this year please head to this link for our donate button and our amazon list!

https://www.forthechildrensantaana.org/donate )

A day or so into camp I was asked if I’d write a letter from the perspective of a camper. I got teary-eyed just contemplating the words I’d scratch on paper. There are a few key things that get me every year at camp. So I took a couple mornings in the gazebo and part of the car ride home to change my perspective to the other side of camp. I’m working on my letter to my Royal Family, but wanted to post this first. Hidden in it are parts of my why. Why I come to camp and why I chose to fly to California to do the thing with the humans I do. 

To my counselor,

I was really nervous to come to camp. I had never been to camp before.

There were so many kids there, getting on busses and it was loud and busy. Whenever there are a lot of kids, I usually get forgotten about.

I’m nothing special.

When I got on the bus a kid sat next to me that had been to camp. They told me that the camp people were the nicest people they had met.

That they loved us no matter what.

I couldn’t believe that.

How could someone love you no matter what?

The bus ride felt really long and bumpy.

I felt butterflies start again when it was announced we were almost there.

Would my counselor like me? Would I have a place to sleep? Would there be enough food?

Then the bus turned the corner and there was a big group of people in blue shirts holding signs.

It was so loud and bright and all the people looked so happy.

And that’s when I saw it.

My name.

It was printed on a sign, held up by a stick.

And you were there.

Yelling and smiling and cheering.

You knew my name.

When they called out my name you got so excited, like you’d been waiting to meet me all your life.

When we finally got to our room that first day it looked so cool.

And my name was everywhere.

It was even on a blanket.

You told us that people prayed for us and whenever we covered ourselves up we could remember that there were a lot of people who cared about us and loved us without ever seeing us.

I didn’t get it.

How could people love us without knowing us?

This camp wasn’t what I thought it was going to be.

Then it was time to go swimming for the first time.

I got kind of nervous when you said you weren’t swimming with us, but you said you would be back.

I wasn’t so sure. People don’t always come back.

The pool time flew by quickly and then there you were.

You showed up.

You came back.

Just like you said.

And those things didn’t change all week.

You said my name so much, like it was your favorite word.

So did all the people at camp.

My name has never been said, so much, so nicely, ever.

You always smiled at me.

And were so excited about what I had done and accomplished.

You always came back whenever you left for a meeting or dropped me off at the pool.

You always came back.

The end of the week came too fast.

And as we were packing up I noticed you still putting my name on everything. You helped me tuck things in safe places and made sure I had everything I had made. 

Right before I got in the bus you gave me a book filled with notes and stickers and pictures of me.

I noticed something about the pictures: I looked happy.

Thank you for reminding me what a smile felt like.

Thank you for always coming back.

Thank you for laughing with me.

Thank you for showing me I was special.

And thank you for knowing my name.

Love,

Your camper