Dear Prayer Partners,
Because of the difficult and transient nature of our campers’ lives, it’s normal for them to feel lost, without direction and purpose for the future. Most of the time, they are just trying to get through current challenges of getting basic needs met. Spoken aspirations for their futures just don’t happen. It’s not the same as a child from a more stable, normal family, whose parents and extended family envision what lies ahead and make plans accordingly.
To address this void, one of our most special camper activities at Royal Family Kids’ Camp is called “Imagination Station.” During activity center times, campers can step into the Imagination Station and explore possibilities for their futures. The room is filled with outfits to try on – super-hero costumes, football uniforms, lab coats and surgical scrubs – just about any occupation, real or imaginary, that you can think of. The collection includes everything from Disney princess gowns to graduation gowns.
The campers come in with their counselors and consider their choices. After choosing the outfit they wish to put on, counselors help them get dressed up, and then usher them over to Sher, who facilitates the experience. This is not just a chance to play dress-up. Looking at themselves in a mirror while in the costume, they discuss the possibilities with Sher.
This is a sample of the dialogue she employs for leading campers through this experience:
Sitting beside the camper as he looks into the mirror, Sher asks,
Tell me why you chose this outfit to wear today. What do you like about it?”
Sher is really good at drawing out even the quietest of campers.
-- If it’s a pretty dress or gown, she might say,
“Why did you choose this color? How does it make you feel?”
“What characteristics are necessary for a good
(doctor, soccer player, dancer, etc)? If it’s a super-hero or movie character,
“What characteristics do you admire about this person? Why would you like to be like them?”
Look at yourself in the mirror and think about what you would like to say to this person. Tell the person in the mirror some things they can do to become like this character in the future. Imagine what this would be like.”
Wow, this is a pretty deep conversation. But with the careful facilitation provided, our campers are up to the challenge, especially our older campers. The practice of looking at themselves, imagining what it would be like to be that character, and then speaking out loud to themselves creates a lasting memory. It creates a visual, auditory, tactile experience not easily forgotten. It plants seeds of hope, laying a foundation for future possibilities.
To close the time together, a photo is taken for the camper’s picture book, and Sher gives him or her a memento to remember the special time. It might be a rock with a word on it, or a bracelet or necklace with a word on it. The words are things like “HOPE” – “IMAGINE” –“DREAM BIG” – something appropriate to recall the aspiration they have discussed.
This year, one nine-year-old girl camper named Jaida was telling Sher that she still had her rock from last year. It said “IMAGINE”. She kept it in a special place and remembered their discussion from last summer’s camp session. It was validation that this provides a meaningful opportunity to imagine the possibilities.
That day, Sher made Jaida a special rock that said, “HOPE”. Her eyes filled with tears.
We want to give hope to our campers. We can only imagine!
p.s. It's our final full day at camp. Pray for our caregivers as they receive the kids home tomorrow afternoon. Pray for the transition for the kids. Pray also for all of us who have become so attached to these wonderful kids ... Fridays are always hard saying goodbye and I expect tomorrow to be no different.