Dear friends: For most of our community kids summer camp is the most fun they will have all year. But for a few it will be a struggle. Like it was for GeGe. A little smaller than most 13 year olds, he had more than his share of attention-needs. His "acting out" began the moment he boarded the bus for the two-hour ride to camp.
For a long week GeGe wreaked havoc on what was supposed to be a fun adventure. He stole food from the kitchen, provoked fights with other campers, threw a counselor’s flashlight into the lake, took delight in breaking every rule. As I said, it was a very long week. On the ride back to the city, he picked a fight with another camper and had to be physically restrained for more than an hour. He had to be forcibly removed from the bus when we finally arrived back at his housing project.
For some reason GeGe wanted to stay involved in our on-going weekly activities. His attendance was sporadic – he was frequently in and out of juvenile detention – and he required painful and persistent doses of discipline. But he did seem to value being included in the small group functions. Eventually, however, he graduated into the adult corrections system for a string of serious offences and I lost track of him.
I did not know until twenty years later the impact camp had on GeGe’s life. After his release from a lengthy stint in prison he tracked me down to tell me. In the long, lonesome, silent days behind bars with endless hours to reflect on life, the messages he had heard at camp and in the group discussions returned to him. Faint memories about God’s love for him seeped into his consciousness and grew large within him. "It changed my life," he told me. "I spent years plotting the murder of a dude who got me locked up but I finally realized I had to forgive him."
For many kids, summer camp is the defining moment when they experience God’s transforming love and choose a path that leads toward life. For some, unfortunately, the germination period is much longer. But as GeGe reminded me, even these seeds are not sown in vain.
Will you invest with us this summer to insure that every child we work with has the opportunity to experience the adventure and richness of summer camp? $100 will enable a child to attend a full summer of activities, overnights, adventure trips and rich diet of nurture. Perhaps you would invite your company or Sunday School class to join you to sponsor several children. And would you commit also to pray that much of the seed will fall on ready soil?