Your generous giving through Steer Funds supports organisations like Prison Fellowship Australia to continue in the restoration of families inside and outside of prison. Here is how enhanced giving impacts lives.
My name is Grace*, and I’ve been part of Camp for Kids for almost 12 years now, starting as a young camper myself.
In all honesty, when I first went to camp I didn’t want to be there. All I could think about was how I wanted to go home.
I was nervous I wouldn’t have anyone to talk to and hang out with because I always felt so alone when I was young. But, quite fast, my mindset changed.
The leaders I had on camp made me feel so unconditionally welcome and like I was part of something greater! I felt like I knew everyone instantly. I felt I could be myself there like I didn’t have to hide who I really was, so I just let myself be free.
I met some of my best friends at camp whom I still see and talk to to this day – friends who have been there for me through some of the hardest days, and who know more about me than others. They made those 5 days at camp some of the best times of my life.
I remember camp bringing me such joy as a young child who came from a broken home and I know all the leaders filled some emptiness for us.
I never wanted to leave at the end of the week. I would count down the days and try to savour every moment I could – I would stay up as late as I could giggling and chatting and being so silly just so I could take these memories with me.
Some of my favourite moments of camp would be all the fun activities we got to do. I felt so adventurous like I could do anything! Every year you would catch me first in line for those quad bikes, the flying fox, and canoeing, even though everyone on that boat would somehow fall off!
I hold these memories so close to me, because not only was it all fun and games, it felt like another family to me. A family that felt like these were people I knew I could trust so deeply with anything and everything.
As a young girl, I dealt with some really heavy things. I never thought I could share or ever tell another soul. But one year, as we were all sitting down to listen to Sal*, one of the speakers who would come talk to us kids, I felt this feeling in my chest like I couldn’t breathe.
She told us how she had come from an abusive home, and even her foster home was an abusive place, too. She described herself as this mirror that had been picked up and thrown to the ground and shattered into a thousand pieces. And then she said, ‘My new foster parents made me come to a camp like this, and I heard about the hope of Jesus, and about a father who would love me, and never ever stop loving me, and would never judge me, and would always be with me through thick and thin. And slowly, Jesus picked up every part of that mirror and put it all back together and made me whole again.’
I’d been holding inside for so long a personal experience that I didn’t feel I could share with anybody, and so I ran into the bathroom and I sat there crying. I could hear that she was finished talking and everyone was leaving. My leader, Anne*, waited for me until I came out of the bathroom and just sat with me. No pressure to say a word, she just let me speak and let me cry and let me tell her the most painful things I’ve ever said before. I told her that what happened to Sal happened to me. Anne was just there for me like she knew I needed in that moment, and right then and there, she was the one person I trusted more than anybody in the world, and the one person who helped me get through one of the hardest things I’ve faced. Anne and Sal helped me see that I didn’t need to keep my secret any longer, and that if I told the police about what happened to me, they would help me. And eventually, the person who had hurt me as a little girl went to prison. Anne even spent time talking with my mum and was there with us through the whole court case.
Anne has always looked out for me, even now I’m an adult living a grown-up life I still hear from her checking in on me.
Anne and all the leaders and all the kids have kept me going back every single year because it makes me feel complete when I’m there. Every year camp brings a light into my life and helps me feel close to God.
Now that I’m a leader on camp, I love being able to guide these children as I was guided throughout all my years as a camper. This camp and all these people really are so special and truly amazing – everyone and everything there has changed my life in such a happy and positive way that I find so hard to describe.
Seeing this camp change and grow over the years has been amazing! Watching everybody grow up and always wanting to come back and even join the leaders let me know the amazing work and effort that is always being done to ensure these children are happy and safe.
Camp for Kids truly is a blessing, and I hope you all can feel what I have said today and feel, on some level, what I feel about this camp.
*Names have been changed
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