rfkc 2014 – one day until camp

The movie Up was on the big screen in front of us.

The eccentric boy and the old man were traversing through the jungle with a comically large blue bird. I vaguely noticed when the evil poacher had captured them in a ridiculous looking airplane.

I was scratching the back of two different girls at the same time. I had been sitting at an awkward angle scratching their backs for most of the movie. My arms were tired, my back ached from the angle and my sit bones were unhappy about the not-so-soft accomodations on the floor.

But none of those things really mattered.

I only get 4 nights. That’s what I kept thinking over and over… and over.

I looked across the room, and became overwhelmed. What is it about kids in pajamas that makes them look so tender? We’ve hauled pillows and blankets and stuffed animals down to the main room to get cozy. The kids in the front of the room have their heads proped up in their hands. It’s like there isn’t a care in the world. And yet, outside these unique moments, I know each one of these kids carries every care in the world on their shoulders.

“Jackie, can you adjust my blanket? I moved, and it fell off.”

We have weighted blankets at camp to help calm down some of the kids that get aggitated easily. One of the campers in my room used one at every opportunity. I pulled the blanket up onto her back

“Is that better?” She nodded as she snuggled down onto her pillow.

Four days is too short. There’s no way to love a kid enough to make up for a life time of people who have not loved them well.

Maybe I set my expectations too high (that happens sometimes), but when I looked at the sweet faces of these 24 kids, it moves me. Parents are supposed to be the adults in our lives we know will take care of us. Parents are supposed to love us – no matter what. And they are supposed to be there for us – always. Our parents are supposed to be our safe place. And for a myriad of reasons, for these kids their parents are unsafe; they don’t know the haven of adults who will bear their burdens for them.

I get overwhelmed when I imagine the burdens these kids have to carry themselves. And that’s why I can give 100% of myself at camp, and then I seem to find an extra reserve of myself to give. These kids are worth giving my everything in hopes that they might find even a glimpse of redemption in their story.

I will carry any number of water bottles and jackets and stuffed animals that help kids feel safer. (I will also carry a weave, that happened one year.) I will tie shoes over and over (even for kids who know how to tie shoes themselves). I will play games I don’t enjoy playing. I will find patience I didn’t know I had (even when the kid decides they don’t want to go where we’re going and they just sit down – right in the middle of the hallway). I will wake up in the middle of the night when there are nightmares and have whispered conversations until sleep comes again. I can calmly take it when a kid screams in my face, because I know that’s the best they know how to communicate frustration. And I will scratch little backs until my arms simply can’t scratch any longer.

We meet new kids tomorrow. And I look forward to coming home absolutely depeleted.

Written by Jackie Alvarez

You can read more about Royal Family kids Camp at the RFKC PAGE

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