We had our annual fall retreat for our elementary age campers yesterday and today. I was privileged to join in here and there... cooking, setting up and teaching a crafts skills class. It is a welcomed change in the stillness that fall brings to the camp.
I have two stories, both completely and utterly unrelated...
While I was teaching my skills class I was sitting by a new camper, she was brought by a friend. She's a sweet eleven year old with eye brows that arch so gracefully they almost touch in the middle, but in a very pleasing way. She was chatting away and said passingly, "I just can't wait to eat all the caramel and candies off my caramel apple!" We had made them the night before. Then she said quite decidedly, "But I WON'T eat one bite of that apple!"
I was caught off guard, most children aren't so picky, especially about apples. I said, "Why won't you eat the apple too? That is the best part with the caramel."
She looked at me with all seriousness recalling her most infamous day, "Well, in second grade, on Johnny Appleseed Day, I ate a whole apple and then spent a WHOLE hour in the bathroom! I'm not doing THAT again!"
I laughed for 10 minutes. Drats that Johnny Appleseed Day!
On an much more serious note I was helping escort kiddos to their cabins during check in yesterday. It was rainy, cold and miserable out. Most of us had on our winter coats and scarves and were cold still.
Up drove a single mom, and her 2 children... our "typical" scenario at CBX. I noticed right away the mom was all bundled up, but her daughter, an eight year old with an elegant name, carrot red hair and thin as stick legs walked up carrying a dirty pillow with no pillow case and a grocery bag which I assumed held her clothes, tooth brush and stuff for the next day. She wore a thin night gown and flip flops and she shivered.
I admit my first thought wasn't too kind to the mom, but I did think, "Well at least she took the time to pack some clothes for tomorrow."
This morning all the kiddos run into the dinning hall and eat breakfast... who is still in her night gown, yes, Miss Elegant. Near noon my husband says, "You see that little girl in the night gown? I don't think her mom packed her any more clothes than that. She said she doesn't have any clothes to change into."
Today is still chilly and we are at camp... we play outside. Tim asks, "Could you go up to her room and check her bags and find her something warmer to wear?"
Sure enough, her bag contained a sweat shirt and tooth brush, no tooth paste. I had her put on the sweatshirt and we went down to the basement to look in our well used "Clothes Closet." We have pants, socks, jackets and shirts as we find many... way too many, of our campers come to camp with out the basics. It is hard to tell if this is because families really don't have these basics or if mom is just too busy or unconcerned to help their children pack right for camp. But, we found a pair of blue sweat pants that fit Miss Elegant and I told her to try to keep her feet dry in her flip flops.
Getting back into the car with my sweet children, my Addie said, "Mom, why didn't that girl's mom pack her any clothes?" Then she continues as I hesitated to explain, "I bet it is because they don't have a daddy..." thinking more... "If they don't have a daddy then they don't have someone to make money and get good clothes for their little girl."
At this point I am tearing up. First because that is exactly the problem, fatherlessness has HUGE ugly effects on little girls and boys. Second because my five year old already knows this and sees it... I never had to tell her why, she could just see it plainly and that breaks my heart.
We have told Addie that many of our campers don't have families that love them or dads or even moms, many of them are waiting in foster care for a family to love them forever... but we are here to keep reminding them about Jesus and their Father in Heaven that loves them so much, want to give them hope and a future. I think she "gets" that.
Later as we were driving home Addie said, "I know, I could give her some of my clothes, but wait, I don't think they will fit her.... Maybe I could use my piggy bank to buy her some."
I love that spirit...
Yes... maybe we can give up... to help someone else! I am glad she gets that simple truth of the gospel... many adults don't get that.
Learn about Cross Bar X Youth Ranch... one of the few camps in America created fully to help low income youth from rural and urban homes.