New Day Camp

Written By Boston Avenue

General | News

Going to camp should be a joyous and happy time for all campers.

By Rochelle Caudill

“We love because he first loved us” 1 John 4:19

Going to camp should be a joyous and happy time for all campers. That is the goal of CJAMM, whose staff worked so hard to plan, organize and produce a camp that would allow a group of 8-14 year olds who are children of at least one parent that is incarcerated, to just have fun for one week. CJAMM has many friends and donors who help to make it happen. As an example, the ladies at The Sassy Scrappers Quilt Guild from Blanchard, OK, spent 5 1/2 months making quilts for all the campers. In addition, Tracie Davis donated enough sneakers so that each child gets a new pair of shoes to take home, as well as a beach towel and socks. Enough money is donated from individuals and churches so that each child will have a new set of sheets and pillow cases, as well as a brand new pillow The set is used on their beds at camp and then are packed up so they can be taken home with them. In addition, new clothing that might be needed is made available and can be distributed discretely to campers that have a need.

To make it all work, volunteers are needed. Fifty-two people signed up to volunteer in various capacities that included group leaders (counselors), craft leaders, pastoral care, woodworking, activity leaders, nurses, deans, and therapists. All volunteers are coached to recognize that many of the campers may have never experienced a positive, healthy relationship with adults and they may be called upon at times to be like a loving parent, sometimes an adult friend and at times a teacher.

I took on the role of friend/teacher when I took a 9 year old girl who has autism that had come into the nurses station for a “rest time” out to the back porch. I had heard that she was fascinated with bugs, so we looked for roly poly’s in the damp soil. We found five, and she built a little fortress for them out of stones. We had looked the bug up on Wikipedia and she read–to include the scientific names–all about the little bug. Needless to say, she was very bright. As she was preparing her fortress, she found that one of her bugs had died. She was not distraught but was adamant that she wanted to bury the bug. She spent a great deal of time digging the little grave–it had to be exact. After she buried it, she wanted it to have a tombstone with RIP clearly written on the tiny stone. As I watched, praised and encouraged her she blossomed in a role she loved, that of taking care of her roly poly’s, even unto death. Her speech and mannerisms all changed. She had taken her jacket off and pushed her hair back away from her face. When she came to us, she had her hoody over her head and her hair pulled over her face. She had told me earlier that she did not like her face so she covered it up.

Throughout the week there were many such stories to tell of one on one or one on group interactions that resulted in changed behaviors. Each of us comes to the camp for different reasons, however, it is well known that all of us want to do what we can to help these children. We know that we cannot fix what is wrong in one week; however just as Jesus talks about the farmer sowing his seed in Luke 8:4-18, we know that some of our work will fall by the wayside, be trampled or wither for lack of moisture or further encouragement. But the good news is we know that some of the seeds will fall on good ground, spring up, and bear fruit. May it be so!

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