Rob and Sharon Macioce of Spring, Texas are ‘retiring’ as Camp Directors after 14 years of service to children in foster care with Royal Family KIDS! As we say a grateful goodbye, we share their memories of lives changed:
My wife and I spent the week of June 10th, 2013 directing the Royal Family KIDS Camp sponsored by Woods Edge Community Church. Including our training in 2000, we have been part of Royal Family for 14 years. I also had the privilege of serving on the Camp Cabinet for 11 years, and was Chairman of that committee for 4 years. In that span of time, we hosted over 350 abused, abandoned and neglected children.
We have had over 550 amazing volunteers serving over 70,000 combined hours of their free time. Financially, over $250,000.00 has been invested in our campers. We have had a member of the Harlem Globetrotters, professional football players, cheerleaders, magicians, professional dancers and even a gentleman that taught the children to mold clay grace our camps over the years. At any given camp, our staff represented in excess of ten different churches in and around our community. Another camp in Tyler, Texas was birthed from our first camp. They have hosted 11 camps. We expect to birth another camp soon. Our church has sponsored four TRAC camps and a TRAC mentoring program.
This year was special for a couple of reasons. On Thursday at our Birthday Party, we had two returning campers as special guests. A 21 year old young man and a 17 year old young woman came to the party to hand out the boy and girl birthday bags. The young man attended three of our camps. A special moment occurred when he went up to a member of our birthday team and said, “HI COUSIN JAY!” Little did we know we were going to have a reunion of camper and counselor. That was truly an unplanned surprise. The young lady attended 6 camps and all 4 TRAC camps. There were tears of joy from my wife and three members of our team that were on staff when they attended camp and of course, I managed a few tears myself.
I share all this with you because my wife and I have directed our last Royal Family KIDS Camp. We are stepping down as directors. It is time for us to pass the scepter; to bring new leadership to our team. It is quite likely we will continue to serve Royal Family KIDS and mentor the new directors. I expect we will be connected to Royal Family KIDS in the years to come.
So, what do all these years of serving mean at the end of the day? Sure, we have memories that will last the rest of our lives. We will have stories to share as “honored guests” at future training sessions for new volunteers. Some are quite funny, some are testimonies that one week DOES make a difference, and some are gut-wrenching realities of the pain of abuse.
But the real story of Royal Family KIDS is about a loving God. It is about his call to Wayne and Diane Tesch to heal the pain of the abused. It is about their call to stop the cycle of abuse, one child at a time. Royal Family KIDS is about a loving God that can heal the hurts of a child. It is about God using ordinary people to demonstrate his love, create positive memories and build self-esteem in the lives of children. It is truly a ministry of hope, a message of God’s plan for the future of our campers.
Early on in my years as a director, I told Wayne that I had learned that Royal Family Kids was a ministry for adults, and God using kids to change their lives. Where else can you bring 50 adults together, ranging from late teens to grandparents, all with one passion: to serve foster children.
We have witnessed adoptions, couples becoming foster parents, marriages being strengthened and young adults with the desire to become camp directors and spread the ministry. My wife and I have attended 9 weddings of volunteers that have served at Royal Family KIDS. One wedding was a couple that actually met as a result of Royal Family KIDS.
Sunday after Sunday at church I share hugs with a number of folks that have one thing common. They answered the call to serve the abused child. Sometimes not a word is spoken. That person may be a teenager or a 60 year old adult. In my world, they are all family. I believe we will always have that relationship, even when our Lord and Master is handing them the jewels for their crowns in heaven.
And of course there are the campers. We love them dearly, and they are in our prayers. Today at church I was able to speak to our congregation about our 13 years of directing our camp. I shared our love for the abused child and our passion to break the cycle one child at a time. I told a story of a child that came up to me at our first camp and asked that Sharon and I adopt her. That story had a very happy ending by the way. Two months after camp she was adopted by a member of our staff and lived with that family until the age of 18.
But then there is the pain we share with our campers. While it was an honor to share our ministry and our years of experience with Royal Family KIDS this morning, before leaving I was informed of a suicide. I attended the funeral this afternoon. I was heart- broken. A foster father committed suicide this week. He was the foster father of the very same 17 year old young lady that I mentioned earlier that returned to our camp this year to hand out the birthday bags. Just a few weeks ago she was being honored by our staff and today she was sobbing at the loss of yet another dad. I cannot possibly put into words the emotions I experienced when she broke from the family and ran into my arms. As she wept, I shared my love for her as I so desperately wanted to heal all of her pain. You see, once you allow God to use you and the talents he has given you, he will also bless you. Today, I was able to share a ministry, and the very same day I was there to love a heart broken child.
Yes, we are stepping down as camp directors. However, we have over 300 new kids in our family to remind us of the power of a loving God. We have over 500 new Christian friends that we consider brothers and sisters in Christ. Not to mention all the amazing staff at the corporate office and directors around the world that understand everything I am trying to say in this letter.
To our successors, we pass the scepter with pride. To our staff over 13 years of camps, we share in God’s response of ‘job well done.’ To Wayne and Diane Tesch and Sue and Dave Watkins, we say thank you from the bottom of our hearts.”
– Rob and Sharon Macioce