For over 25 years, St. Andrew’s has partnered with Royal Family Kids’ Camp. For the last 10 years, St. Andrew’s has also partnered with RockHarbor and Irvine Presbyterian Church to host between 80-90 kids in Orange County’s foster care.
Most of these children have had a very tough life already. Imagine not having a mom or dad – having one or more parents before they’re ultimately taken away, be that by death, drugs, alcohol, abuse, or any number other life-altering events. Some of these children were actually born into the foster care system and have never experienced life otherwise. Others have been fostered by loving families. Regardless, the majority of these children have been shuffled around from one program or family to the next. Very few, if any, have had any sort of structure, security, or stability. For such young lives, they have not experienced much love or safety.
We know that God has a heart for the orphan. Christ has modeled for us what it is to love the “lost, the least, and the last.” Royal Family Kids’ Camp has engaged churches from around the nation and the world to step up and proactively play a very tangible role in bringing life and hope to these young children. The model is simple. One or more churches will gather together to host a week-long camp for these children.At camp, each child gets to truly just be a kid. A sampling of activities includes a rope course, swimming, slip-n-slide, archery, track and field, woodworking, painting, jewelry making, cookie decorating, tea party and story time. Each day, the kids gather together during Chapel to hear a Bible story and sing songs together. Other activities include a talent show, a Rock concert, story time with the camp “grandma and grandpa”, and an all-camp birthday party for those who may never have had one themselves.Each counselor is assigned 1-2 kids who they will invest into and bond with throughout the week. The leadership team prays through how to match the campers with their individual counselors. “It’s amazing how the Holy Spirit goes before this process and pairs up the right campers with the right counselors each year.” – RFKC CounselorSt. Andrew’s member, Audrey Taylor has been serving at Royal Family for over 12 years. Her role is to manage all of the “mail” that counselors and support staff are encouraged to write to the kids while they are at camp. Many of the kids have never received mail or a hand-written note before. Julie, one of the support staff at camp this year, was helping to run the annual Tea Party. It was her first year serving at camp and she was encouraged to write a note to every kid who came to the Tea Party. So, after each child left, Julie set out to write a special note to those who came to the tea party, letting them know how glad she was that they came. With so many notes being written, Audrey keeps busy organizing all of them in the mail boxes!
One of the little campers who returned to camp this year shared a story with her counselor about one of the crafts she made in a previous year. She came this year with 3 of her siblings and shared how scared she gets every time she arrives at a new foster family. After last year’s camp, she put all of her notes inside her homemade wooden box and reads them whenever she is scared. She said they remind her of feeling safe and loved!
For info on Royal Family Kids’ Camp and our other ministry partnerships, please visit www.sapres.org/extendingthefamily.