Summer Camp: a memorable experience for so many kids for decades. An experience that provides a child the freedom to explore their surroundings, make new lifelong friends, and build maturity, as one of their first times away from home. Because of the cost, the many families of Hillcrest Hope cannot provide such a wonderful opportunity for their children. I sat down with the three kids from Hillcrest Hope, who, through the generosity of Heartland Presbyterian Center, was able to send them to summer camp this year. Please meet our three campers: Isaiah, Jeffrey, and Destiney.
As the three attempted to talk over each other about the wonderful camp experiences, I learned about the wide variety of activities they got the chance to be a part of at Heartland Presbyterian Camp. Destiney spoke of morning and afternoon Bible reading and discussion, Isaiah shared about archery and horseback riding, and Jeffrey spoke of the numerous games and silly activities that made friends from strangers and established trust with their camp counselors.
“I didn’t know anybody at first,” Destiney shared, who rarely knows a stranger. By the end of each of their own camp experience, they named friends and counselors that they had grown close to. Kim, their mom, admitted that taking Isaiah, the first to go to camp this summer, was tough. “It was hard on me, leaving him and trusting him to strangers.” It got a little easier with a few more familiar faces each time she took one of the kids. “Jeffrey even admitted to missing his brother and sister a little while he was away,” Kim laughed.
When asked what their favorite camp activity was, all three kids answered unanimously: swimming. Destiney went into greater detail about an impromptu shaving cream fight and a talent show on a rainy day. Jeffrey described the rules of game after game he learned to play. Their mom identified what they couldn’t quite communicate. “They each had their own unique experience. No competition. No need to one-up the others. For each of them to have a little bit of time to themselves was awesome.”
We began to talk more about the impact camp had made on them and they got a bit quieter. Isaiah had shared previously with his mom that he realized he could do more at home, be more of a leader. His counselor and others at camp recognized this leadership quality in his interaction with the other kids. “Isaiah acts out his gratitude and leads by example,” shared camp staff.
Destiney shared that she learned to be a better person and listen more. “When you go to camp, it changes you. Be yourself, you don’t have to hide it,” she stated. “And when I know I shouldn’t do something, I think about it now before I do anything.”
For Jeffrey, missing home and family just a little bit caused him to think about how much he appreciates them.
None of the three had ever been to camp before, but all three are hoping to return next summer. It was an opportunity for them to each feel just like every other kid. They could let go of the responsibilities at home, not be identified in relation to their siblings…they got to just be themselves.
Each and every child at Hillcrest Hope could benefit from an experience like this, an experience of their very own. This year it was Heartland Presbyterian Center, but next year it could be you! Our thanks to Heartland Presbyterian Center, who provided scholarship funding for these three kids, so the wonderful experience of camp could be a reality. From Hillcrest Hope and out three campers, we say: