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

royal family kids camp

YOU are my lighthouse

Dear Royal Family,

I am tired.

I’ve been pondering words to you about this week since Friday morning before the week was over. I wanted to take time to sit at the gazebo and write some words in my journal but, instead, my journal is filled with a couple pages of drawings from one of the LIT girls who needed a bit of space from her room.

I wasn’t really sure what to write honestly, because I am just exhausted.

This past week was full. It was fun. There was a lot of laughter. There was a lot of water. There were a lot of deep breathes.

And, right now, as I am typing this, I am getting tears in my eyes.

Because even though I’m exhausted and have no desire to be around people, I would do it all again tomorrow.

The moment for me this year at camp was during LIT graduation.

I turned to face the 22 LITs on the stage and I looked in their eyes.

And I saw it. I saw all the things that they had inside of them. I saw the leadership, the care, the encouragement.

I saw the courage.

I saw all of those things shoving down all the bad, all the hurt and the shame and the pain.

I saw a flicker of hope.

It was there.

Starting to burn a little brighter, starting to rise up out of them.

It might have only been for that moment, but they believed what I was saying.

It might have been only a split second, but they understood what it meant to believe in themselves.

They understood what it was to be believed in.

Obviously at camp, my goal, my reason for being there is to love the kids.

I want to show them love, out of the overflow of love I’ve been given.

But, in that love I want them to know that they have power inside of them. I want them to find the ability to believe in themselves.

I want them to know that we believe in them.

I got my 8th tattoo today (ironically at the end of my 8th year at camp).

This tattoo is for all who are apart of my Royal Family.

For you, the adults, and for every kid who has crossed my path at camp.

I got my first “picture” tattoo. A starfish.

It’s my reminder for so many things. To stop for the one. To remember that I have gifts and abilities that I can utilize. It is to remind me of the one week a year that impacts over 100 kids and over 100 adults.

It’s my reminder of you guys.

Because you guys are amazing.

On Monday, I was looking at everyone at devotions and thinking of the hundreds of work hours that were being missed, of the families still at home, of the projects put on hold.

All for the kids.

Woof.

I had typed thank you. But that doesn’t seem big enough.

Because, yes, everything we do during Royal Family, is for the kids.

But, it’s also for each other.

We encourage the kids.

We encourage each other.

We cheer them on.

We cheer on each other.

We believe in the kids.

We believe in each other.

So, that being said:

I want you to know that I believe in you. I want you to know that I have hope for you and courage for you.

I want you to know that you might have things in your life that have been hard or traumatic or scarring but I want you to know that there is love for you.

You have things that are ready to rise up out of you.

We have 51 weeks out of the year to live life out of what we’ve learned at camp, 51 weeks to be a lighthouse for others.

So, let’s the do the damn thing.

I love you and treasure you guys more than you’ll know.

Meg (Gem, Junapera)

royal family kids camp

To my Royal family 2017

To my Royal Family,
I put off writing this as long as I could, mainly because I didn’t want to start crying. 

So, obviously writing this on an airplane is something that sounded right.

I’ve been closing my week of royal family out for the last 4-5 years or so with a letter to you, those whose I do the thing with and it’s become one of my favorite writing pieces that I work on.

.family.

I learn something, as we all do, every year at camp.

Day in and day out for the better part of the last 11 years I’ve taken care of tiny humans. Even amidst my travels abroad and the times in between, I’ve found myself filling in at my old preschool, teaching English, babysitting and volunteering at VBS.

I don’t seem to find kids; they seem to find me.

The job that I’ve held for the last two years has been the most exhausting to date. It pulls out of parts of me that have been hard to refill. It’s thrown my life more out of balance than anything I’ve every encountered.

It’s been hard.

And for reasons, some still out of my grasp, I belong there. The people make my heart soar and I’ve adored the families I’ve been privileged to walk alongside of for the last two years.

But, as per usual, camp did something. It reminded me of things I think I’ve tried to bury and shove to the side.

I was pretty busy this week at camp. Moving from an Afro and sequins, to khaki pants and a field guide, to a swimsuit and back again.

#itsbecauseweprayed

I was exhausted.

BUT I wasn’t weary.

These kids get me every year.

It’s in the moment where they comprehend they get birthday presents, or the moment where they hold the slimy sea creatures, or pass the swim test.

It’s in the moment where they understand they are allowed to be a kid.

And especially in the moment that they realize that we believe for their futures.

Some things never change.

Getting to find ways to tell each kiddo that they were meant for more, for greater, that they are allowed to dream.

That gets me.

That got me.

This year, albeit exhausting, I was able to grab some of that for myself. 

I had forgotten or maybe even chosen to push aside the fact that I am meant for more.

I think I’ve had so many unsuccessful feeling days over the last year that I’ve lost that fact that I’m good at what I do.

Camp grants us a week to allow the gifts and talents and abilities inside of ourselves to be used to the fullest potential possible.

We don’t hold back at camp.

This week I was reminded of a few things: I have the ability to find joy in what I do, I miss telling kids about Jesus and lastly, that I shouldn’t hold back, ever.

what happens in drama (doesn’t always) stay in drama

The Sunday after camp I went to NMC, a place that has become my home church in California and Pastor Jordan talked about how Jesus delegates his ministry to the disciples. He used a passage from Mark that always hits me in the eyes:

“He went up in the hillside and called those whom He himself wanted and chose; and they came to Him” (mark 3:13)

I remember when I first heard that verse. It’s an action verse. There is nothing passive in picking up and following Christ. There is nothing passive in choosing to pick up and step into the things that God has given us to use.

LIT partner in crime. And my cousin Terra-cotta

This weekend it reminded me that all the things I use at camp, all the acting, all the leadership, all the yelling and all the love I delve into at camp is with me the other 51 weeks of the year.

And my amazing, breathtakingly awesome royal family: they are all in you too.

So in a month or two, when the thrill of camp is gone, or when you are back in your job, or feel as if you have nothing to give, please remember that camp is always in you.

The love you have to give. The gifts you bring to the table. The silliness to get you through. It’s all in you, each and every day.

You guys inspire me. With you are, what you have and what you bring.

It’s always with you.
It’s not about taking the joy of Christmas with you all year, it’s about taking the joy of camp with you.

On Wednesdays we match

I cannot wait until we can physically do the thing again together, but I know in spirit, spread out from there to here and here to there, we can choose, daily, to bring what we have to camp, to the people in our lives daily.

I love you all so much.

Sincerely,

Dr. Pembroke, Junapera, Coach Sox, Meghan,

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

royal family kids camp, stateside

To my Royal Family

To the fabulous people of the Newport Mesa Royal Family Kids Camp:

Female LIT counselor and our dean (AKA my OC mom)
I’m at my church in Washington right now, holding back tears.

I’m tired, emotionally exhausted, a little beat up-it goes without saying that my heart is broken.

It was a tough week up on the mountain. Every five minutes felt like a battle I wasn’t ready for, every word I said was rememebered, the good, the bad and the ugly. One of the purple people asked me at the church, after all the kids had gone, what my biggest challenge was during the week. I didn’t even have to think about the anwser.

One of the things you should know about me is that I have about ten years of early education under my belt. I never went to school for it, I’ve taken maybe 6 or 7 classes, so most of my knowledge is trial and error. Mainly error.

So when asked what my biggest challenge was–my response was easy. Seeing how the things I know of child development acted out to the extreme. Knowing that structure and rules= love. And knowing that those things will pushed at.

longest tuesday ever NBD
That they were pushed at–all week.

But you keep going. You stay. You remain. Then at the end of the week in the last five minutes the kid who deemed you “mean counselor meg who always says no” runs up to you to give you a hug.

my fellow world traveler
Camp is for the kids. That’s true. If it wasn’t for the kids-I probably wouldn’t do it. It wouldn’t be worth it. It certainly doesn’t always feel good, or make sense. But it’s for the kids so at the end of the day it does indeed make sense and is worth it.

But for me camp is also a family business. Coming to camp is coming home, coming to something that feels like the most wacky normal ever. Coming to camp is coming to family.

I was also asked by purple people why in the world I would fly from Washington.

It’s easy. This is the camp my family goes too. It’s my people. My home base.

family.
You guys inspire me. Year after year. I beam thinking about the amazing people that take a week out of their lives to be on a mountain, eating camp food and sleeping on duct tape for a chance to make a kid smile.

I’m grateful to be apart of your family.

Thanks for always welcoming me home.

With love,

Junapera aka mean counselor Meg.
(Special shout-outs to: Michele for my caboodle, Becca, Kim, Tyler and Priscilla for outfitting my room, Kinda for the same and also lanyards, Krystle for helping my dream of being a gospel back-up singer come a little more true, Casey for being Casey, everyone for never making fun of my makeup when I let the kids do my makeup, teen staff for being the best, Sue for regaling me with a story that made me almost fall to the ground in laughter and tears, Brooke for not judging my morning vocabulary, the ladies of Cedar for being the best, Lauren for being a kindred soul at camp, Ryan for not putting me in a headlock, Sarah for being the best surprise buddy a girl could have and for riding the struggle bus, airplane and coaster with me and of course to my second family the Choi’s for letting me out of dog sitting 7 years ago so I could come to camp.)

royal family kids camp, stateside

a letter to my royal family

image

This, this is for all the girls, and boys all over the world
Whatever you’ve been told, you’re worth more than gold
So hold your head up high, it’s your time to shine
From the inside it shows, you’re worth more than gold
(Gold gold, you’re gold)
You’re worth more than gold
(Gold gold you’re gold)

gold-britt nicole

I know that for most people the hashtag #themostwonderfultimeofyear is centered around Christmas and Starbucks red cups and all of that kind of stuff.

But if I am being completely honest, my favorite time of year is a span of 6 exhausting days tucked up in the mountains wearing wigs, eating salad, laughing with kiddos and being with one of the most giving group of people I’ve ever encountered.

To my hard-working, incredibly loving, (more than just) sometimes sarcastic Royal Family-

You all are amazing.

I’ve been trying to put it into words over the last twenty-four hours. I was in tears getting on a train traveling away from Orange County today.

image
lauren.krystle.vanessa.priscilla. lovely ladies I get to do {camp & real} life with and be a {temporary} buddy for.
My heart swells at the thought of all you. Every single one.

On Sunday while we were running around Pinecrest getting all the things ready; the thought that kept coming into my head was about the importance of changing the connotation of family for the kids coming up the hill the next day. How important the word “family” is. How important our interactions are in front of the kids. The hugs, the inside jokes, the smiles we give each other all week is so important because it shows the kiddos that even though we aren’t related we are indeed FAMILY.

I know beyond a shadow of a doubt this week the friendships that have formed and grown amidst the 100 counsellors, staff and teen staff showed the kids a picture of Christ. It showed them that family isn’t just what you are born into but it’s also the people you are given.

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photo of {a lovely photographer} Casey taken by {another equally lovely photographer} (and also her mama) Janel. So grateful for these two who catch the joy of the kiddos like photo ninjas.
It’s such a lovely thing. And I know it’s exhausting but man, this royal family needs every part. From the teen staff (who are the most awesome teens ever) to the nurses and staff counsellors, to the deans and directors to the mail ladies, to those of us in chapel to the coaches on the field and the karate instructors on the pavement, to the activity centers, wood shop workers, fantasy corner inhabitants, grandma & grandmas, aunts & uncles to our photographers and videographers. To those who do all the work pre-camp to our birthday party volunteers who come up one day to bring the kiddos so much joy. And last but in no way least; to the counselors who tuck the kids in at night after running around with them all day.

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i’ve gotten to watch these guys do their thing for 4 years and was stoked to get to be apart of the crew this year.
I’ve met a lot of people in this world, a lot running great ministries and doing beautiful work all over the world. But it’s all you guys, all those who head up that mountain for the week that give me hope. All of you show me the love of Christ in such beautiful ways. Because you don’t have too. It’s not your job.

You do it for the kids.

It’s all of you who make it never a sacrifice to come up the hill; but an utter privilege.

I’m so grateful that 6 years ago Kim made me fill out an application to be a counselor instead of just being the person who house sat while they were gone.

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5 year pin. Here’s to 10-15-20-25 more.
Thank you for allowing me to be apart of this family. Thank you for laughing with me (or at me because: Haman.) thank you for encouraging me and hugging me (or putting me in a headlock) and thank you for letting me see pieces of the inner strength you have in you that maybe not many other people see. Thank you for taking the story God gave you and the life you’ve lived and pouring it not only into the kids but into me.

So lastly, this week, as you go about your daily lives I want you to all remember something:

You are so utterly and completely lovedAnd every ounce of love you gave out last week will come back to you.

You are wonderfully, beautifully known and loved.

You are all in my heart and I am so very, very proud to know you.

Can’t wait to see you next year,

With love, blessings and {so much coffee},

Meg

(aka Haman aka Juneapera)

{to learn more about Royal Family Kids Camp or to find one in your area click here)

Honest, hope is a verb

an afro, some sequins (& 92 kids)

(before I begin this: a shoutout to the incredibly amazing, lovely, dance party-riffic staff & counselors of Newport Mesa Church’s Royal Family Kids Camp. Your kindness, encouragement and love spurred me on last week and I was completely and utterly humbled by your words!)

Last year in February I did ministry for the day along with 5 others from my squad at a maximum security prison in Trujillo, Peru. If I’m being honest I wasn’t THAT nervous. Sure, I was a little nervous. But I’d prayed and ask for God to shield my eyes from things I shouldn’t see and to protect my ears from things I shouldn’t hear. I felt protected.

I stood up in front of men in that prison and helped lead worship, spoke words from God.

I was at peace.

Last week I stood in front of 92 kids between the ages of 7-11 and was scared to death.

image_3            (the carpool crew before we headed up the mountain)

Hilarious much?

Last week I was the Bible story teacher at Royal Family Kids Camp. RFKC is a week of fun and happiness for kids who are in the foster care system. Some of them are from pretty rough backgrounds; living in foster families, group homes, separated from siblings. For the most part life for them hasn’t been easy. So RFKC happen around the nation and they are filled with volunteers who come together to make a week of fun, love and joy for this kids.

This is my fourth year volunteering and my first year as the bible story teacher. So each chapel I would teach the kids the memory verse (Psalm 23:4), do some sheep trivia questions and after singing  and dancing I would get up and tell them stories about David and the Good shepherd.The first morning I was TERRIFIED.

Would I be able to hold the attention of (most) of the kids? Would the counselors hate me for taking too much time or even worse not enough? Would the staff totally regret their decision to have me take the job?

image_2(my trenta)

So many doubts as I went to step up and took the mike for the first time. I got up that first chapel and talked about shepherds and the awesome teen staff helped me with a skit. And as I finished my first day of stories my nervousness began to go away because I realized I was doing something I love more then anything.

Getting the privilege of telling kids that they are not only special and loved but that God has a plan for them.

And these kids need to hear that desperately.

In that I realized where my fear came from. In all the times last year I stood in front of a mike and talked or sang, I never was really nervous because I didn’t really care what other people thought (and of course for the most part no one spoke english).

image_1(Lauren// fellow WR Alum// fellow Californian// fellow adventurer)

Put me in front of a mike in front of a group of kids with short attention spans, friends I respect and people I don’t really know and I forget why I ‘m really there.

The next day I showed up to chapel in a sparkly sweater and an afro and a lot more confidence and love.

Because all that mattered was that the kids listened long enough to know we love them, Jesus loves them and He has a plan for them.

THAT’S what I want my life to look like no matter has scary it seems. I want people to know they are loved by Jesus, that He has a plan for them no matter where they are in life.

I admitted a few things to the kiddos last week between shouting psalm 23:4 and apparently looking like a a crossover between MJ and Bob Marley; I admitted I’m blind as a sheep, I need google, that I was afraid of the dark and that I’m 29 and still unsure completely what I want to be when I grow up.

But what last week taught me is that standing in front of someone (or many someones) and encouraging them to go and do and be is a big part of who I am and what I want to be.

So yes, I was scared this week before I put on the sparkly sweater.

Because kids? are scary.

Adults? they are scary too.

People who understand english?

Yep, scary.

The bottom line, the thing that helped me get over the fear is the reminder that God has a plan.

image_4

I’m leaving Thursday for another adventure.

And just like those kids, God has a plan. And that information grounds me a little. I’m getting on a plane Thursday by myself and I’m antsy and nervous. I’m so thankful I have friends meeting me on the other side.

That’s all for now. Last week was a beautiful blessing and I can’t wait to see my Royal Family again next year.

I may or may not have more blog stateside (or on my enormous 4th of July layover in Turkey) But I treasure your prayers and encouragement in this next part of life. And if you are able and willing I still need some help and support for this journey. All donations are tax deductible: Click HERE to donate and make sure you type “Meg Reeve” in the notes. (And if you’d like a postagram from Espana shoot me your mailing address!!)