I’ve been involved in this wonderful ministry now for six years both financially and as a counselor. The campers who attend this camp are foster kids and typically come from severe life situations including physical, mental, and sexual abuse. These are kids that are not allowed to attend the typical summertime camps offered to so many others. Royal Family is a national organization and requires each camp to work with a church sponsor (in this case Cedar Park Assembly of God). Our particular camp is run by co-directors Scott and Carolyn Winter (both teachers at CPC). The camp is offered to these foster kids free of charge which means that the $55,000 to run the camp must be raised through a caring community.
I choose to be involved because of the type of kids we serve and how it changed me personally and spiritually. These kids are often victims of horrible abuse, parents may be incarcerated, and they may have been bounced around multiple foster situations including group homes. They often have a litany of medications daily just to be able to handle a tough situation that they had no fault in creating. All of us who choose to be involved strongly believe that we must be willing to reach out and make a difference because if we don’t, who will? The need is great and the workers are few. I’ve learned to put my own needs aside and give literally everything I’ve got to make the camp experience great for the kids. This camp is usually the one happy experience and memory each camper has in their life. Last December at the annual Christmas party we put on for the kids, one of my campers brought me his picture that book he received at the previous summer camp (often the only childhood pictures they have). He wanted to go through it again and he held on to it as if it was life itself. I see every year the dramatic difference this camp means to these kids. We certainly do not force God upon the campers, but we introduce them to who God is and answer their questions. We give them a bible signed by their counselor including the “grandparents.” The grandparents are volunteers who come to camp and love on these kids who often do not know their real grandparents or have any concept of what a grandparent is. We take a day during the camp and celebrate “everybody’s” birthday since many of these kids have never had a real birthday party. I have had campers tell me that their dream is to come back to camp as a counselor when they are old enough so they can help these kids that so desperately need it. Wow! Does it get any better than that? Kids breaking the cycle of victimhood and wanting to reach out and help other kids based upon the help they themselves received from others showing God’s love. Our school motto of “changed lives are changing lives” never has seemed more appropriate.
As principal of Cedar Park Christian High School, I am amazed every year at the number of our own CPC students and graduates that participate as counselors, assistant counselors, in worship/music ministry, drama production, activity center, behind the scenes, photographers, and many other areas. It literally takes an army of volunteers that take a week out of their lives to make this camp possible. Every year I take one of our chapels and challenge our students to step out and make a difference in the life of a defenseless child by choosing to be involved. The number of our own school students that have answered the call is so high that if it were not so, the camp would not be able to touch so many abused kids’ lives. Our CPC students have repeatedly commented how their life has been changed from serving at Royal Family KIDS. Our CPC culture and community have been dramatically impacted by our students that have committed to help. I encourage you to inquire about ways you might be able to help such a worthy cause by showing Christ’s love to kids that deserve so much, yet feel lost and forgotten. Please take a few moments of your time and watch these short videos to get a visual picture of some of what I have covered in my letter to the CPC community. Wayne Tesch, the founder of Royal Family KIDS, said it best when he said “Can one week make a difference in a child’s life? It only took moment for abuse to take place and that becomes a scarring issue in their life forever. When they are able to come and spend a week in the outdoors surrounded by God’s people, and they are able to say I don’t have to live or grow up the way I came, I am free to take another path…healing and hope begins to take place in their lives.”
Below is an example of how a counselor assistant assessed her experience this summer. Brianna thanks the camp director Scott Winter, and I too thank him for his continued leadership as the gatekeeper to such a worthy cause. I also want to thank Brianna for her willingness to step out of her comfort zone and choosing to join the team in making a difference. She is a great example of how a changed life is changing lives.
Dear Mr. Winter,
First off I apologize for not sending this sooner as I said I would, but I got home and did not know how to express in words how Royal Family changed me. I really needed to take some time and look at the bigger picture. Now that I have backed up and let God work a little more, here is what I realized. Those girls changed my life. Yes, there were ups and downs, but I really loved being around them and having fun just seeing the growth in them. I also believe that my life has been impacted and I have grown as a young woman of God. Those girls showed me how to experience a happiness that I have never experienced quite so much before. It is a fun-loving, caring happiness where I found myself smiling just because they were happy. It has helped me to find more joy in my family and friends’ joy. They still bring me that joy just seeing the crafts they made me and remembering all of the memories. I do not think I have ever felt more cared for or needed than when I was with them and they would come up and hold my hand. I miss all of them, worry about them, and pray for them often as probably all of the other staff would agree and I cannot wait for the Christmas party and camp next year.
Thank you very much for making this all possible.
Brianna (11th grade)