stories about camp

how could they do that?

[this is branching off of my previous post. it doesn’t have much to do with it, so i’m writing a whole new one.]
in chapel a few weeks ago, the speaker(part of my brain is saying it was dr murray, but the other half is laughing at that, so it was probably someone else) was asking this question about the holocaust. we later discussed it in ics. it was talking about things like racism/stereotyping/thinking we’re better than people, things like that. but this question comes to my mind when i think about kids with rotten families.
i first started really contemplating this my first summer. this girl had taken a particular liking to me. she wasn’t even in my cabin or anything, and i don’t even remember her name(i hate myself for forgetting). she loved everything about camp and reminded me a whole lot of myself. i could go on, but basically she was just a wonderful little person in every way and i’m sure she still rocks at life wherever she is.
but i don’t know where she is, or what’s happened to her since those 5 days in july 2008 that i got to be in her life.
that friday when her name was called, she came to me and said “please don’t make me go home.” she told me that no one loved her, that they didn’t hug her or listen to her, or treat her like she was special. when i asked if they did anything wrong to her(i think that’s how i worded it, i wasn’t sure the best way to find out if anyone was abusing her), she seemed to know what i was getting at, and she said “no, they’ve never ever hurt me, they feed me and give me a bed and everything, but they don’t love me. i just want to stay at camp and see you every day because you love me.”
it broke my heart to have to make her go down and leave with her church. i can’t remember exactly what i said to her, but i know it wasn’t everything i meant to. i know i somehow told her she still had to go home, and that i loved her and would miss her a lot and hoped she’d come back next year. all i remember emphasizing was that i did love her. but i don’t think it was enough. i tried to hug her, but she pulled away and just left with her friends.
she never came back. i have no idea where she is, or how she’s doing. and when i was 16 and stupid, i didn’t want to admit that i wasn’t totally capable of helping everyone, so i didn’t ask anyone if there was anything i could have done.(although, to console myself, knowing what i do now, i don’t think i could have reported anything)
if i had that moment to redo, i would have said so much more to her. i would have told her that even though her family didn’t love her, she still deserves love. that she was wonderful and strong and that God will one day do big things through her and use her life to help someone else in some amazing way. that she was perfect and beautiful exactly as she was, that she had made my summer brighter and i’d never forget her, but mostly, that God adored her even more than i did, and even if she didn’t get to see me and get hugs from me, God would still be with her all year long.
from this mistake, sprouted my traditional end-of-the-week motivational speech. every thursday night, i read the page from “his princess” about true beauty. then i tell them, and i scan the room and make sure i lock eyes with each girl at least once, that they are beautiful, and special, and God loves them more than they can imagine. (if it’s a really phenomenally good week, first i tell them how great they are and how much i’ve loved sharing the week with them and how i’ll miss them, then i tell them God loves them even more than i do, as hard as that is for me to imagine. my best week this summer, i was sobbing so hard by the middle of it[though smiling while i cried], that 5 of them got out of their beds to hug me and tell me they loved me too.) i promised myself that i would never let any of my girls leave without knowing that i care about them, and that Jesus adores them.
but back to the story.
that night after she left, besides feeling like a failure at my job, i screamed in my head at God. not so much at God, more TO Him. how was the world such a sick place that there were people capable of not loving such a precious child? i was so angry that i couldn’t do anything. emotional abuse is so much more painful than the illegal kinds. why do parents not go to jail for not loving their kid? and in a way, i was jealous of them. they got to see her every day. they got to be part her life all year long. they could get those sweet little hugs that never failed to make my day, every day. they got to watch her grow up, see what kind of a wonderful person she’ll become, and they could care less. why?
there are others like her. God has brought several campers into my life that only get to be loved 5 days out of the year. as thankful as i am for this privilege of becoming part of their lives and getting to show them that they do deserve to be loved and cared about, it disturbs me even more to think that there are hundreds of thousands of kids like them who i haven’t even met yet. they’re suffering too.
and so, i’m going to change it. it’ll only be a small fraction, but i’ll take that. i want to get them out of that hell hole of a “home” and find them a place where they’re safe and happy and loved. or if nothing else, talk some sense into their parents and get them to see why they should love their kid.
i want God to take me in his hand and use me to change children’s lives. to show them they are worth something. that they’re special and lovable. going through life without knowing that is like being wide awake in the middle of a nightmare, and no one deserves to live like that.
i hate this sick world. and for the time God is still making us live in it, i want every child in it to be loved.
and i miss camp.
one final thought: when it’s time for my girls to leave, i’m sad for all of them, even the ones with great parents. i love meeting them and telling them how great their kids are, and it makes me smile when they tell me things like “oh yes, we know”.(i even told one mom “thank you so much for sharing her with me” and she laughed and said “don’t worry, you can have her again next year, but i want her back now”. one of the best moments of my whole summer, actually probably even in my “career”). i’m glad they appreciate what a blessing they’ve got on their hands, and that they trust me to take care of it 5 days a year. i always miss them a little less knowing they’re safe for the year before they come back to see me.

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