3.6 million children in the United States are reported as having been abused, neglected or abandoned. One of these children dies every six hours due to the abuse. These are awful statistics, but they present the reality of American society today. In 1985 Wayne and Diane Tesch decided to try and do something about it. They founded Royal Family Kids’ Camp to help children that have come through serious hardship. By 2015 Royal Family KIDS was serving 7,700 children across 209 camps in 40 states and four countries internationally every single year. Since its foundation over twenty years, ago well over 100,000 children have been helped by the organization.
Royal Family Kids’ Camp offers a camp experience that is specifically designed for children who have suffered from abuse, neglect or abandonment. These kids have had unique experiences, and so they require a unique camp experience as well that is best suited to their needs. The camps are based on the needs of children aged 7-11, and they are run by trained counselors and other staff who work with the kids. Local churches are often at the heart of the movement and sponsor the camps.
This article looks at some of the best things about Royal Family Kids’ Camp.
Royal Family Kids Create Positive Memories for Children
The first thing to say, which follows a key goal of the program, is that the camps create much needed positive memories for these children who have suffered from unspeakable hardship in the past. It shows them that it is possible to live life in a positive way and that there are people out there who want to help them and give them nice things to experience.
Royal Family Kids Allows Kids to be Kids
Children can be children at the Royal Family Kids’ Camps. They can play around, run, jump, laugh and play with other kids. These basic things have more often than not been taken away from these kids in the past. The mixed variety of activities available at the camp means that there will always be something of interest to do. Kids need stimulation, and the camps provide them with this.
Royal Family Kids’ Camps are Structured
Often the kids who come along to Royal Family Kids’ Camps will have led very unstructured lives and may not even have been to school before. They will not have had the opportunity to have a structure in their lives and experiences that instill self-discipline, determination and the setting of goals. The camps themselves are packed with all sorts of activities and lessons. In this way, they are a little bit like a school although they are intended to be more fun than the average school lessons! The activities of each camp vary slightly, but there is a general program structure which remains the same.
Royal Family Kids’ Camps have Good Adult Role Models
Each camp will have a large number of positive adult role models to show the children, who have probably experienced very bad adults in the past, that not all adults are bad and in fact, they can be good people who you can look up to and aspire to emulate in the future. In each Kids’ camp, there is one adult leader for every two campers and that adult leader will spend 23 hours a day with these two kids. This leads to a lot of trust being built up and a good relationship. The leader is often a volunteer who will have gone through a lot of training. It will be their responsibility to be there for the kids throughout the week and escort them for the activities.
Royal Family Kids’ Camps have Fantastic and Fun Activities
Activities change from time to time and will vary depending on the camp and the time of year (as well as the expertise of the adult supervisors), but they generally include swimming, playing sports, hiking, arts, crafts and woodwork. Often this will involve teaching the children new skills which can help them after they leave the camp. Royal Family Kids’ Camps provide an opportunity for ‘informal’ therapy Every night the volunteer leader will have a conversation with each of the kids, and it is a great opportunity for the kids to talk about things that have happened to them in the past. This is a great relief for many of them and acts as a cathartic therapy, even though they are not aware that they are going through it.
Royal Family Kids’ Camps have a Massive Birthday Party for All of the Kids
Because of where most of these kids have come from, many of them will never have celebrated their birthday. The camps put this right by holding a massive birthday bash for all of them. This is often the kids’ favorite activity of the week when they look back on it. They each get a small birthday present, and they share the food which always includes a birthday cake and usually ice cream and lots of other yummy food. It forms a wonderful memory for the kids. It makes them feel valued and special. It also makes them feel like individuals, but individuals who are part of a friendship group. Most of these kids will not have had friends in the past.
Royal Family Kids’ Camps provide great volunteering opportunities for people to give something back. It is not just the kids who benefit from these camps. The volunteer leaders will also come away from the experience feeling fulfilled and as if they have really done something positive to help these kids in their journey to recovery. The Royal Family Kids’ Camps are absolutely brilliant experiences for these abused and neglected children, and their work is vital in a world where children continue to suffer. It is an amazing opportunity for kids who have too often been forgotten to make a new start in life. It reaches out to these kids and offers a sense of hope to them, something that has not been possible in their pasts. It may just be one week, but its impact will be huge.