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Where the Heart Is

“I have been distracted this week. My heart is not in California because my heart is in New York. For the past five years (and the past three with my hubster), I have been an individual camp counselor at a beautiful camp called Royal Family Kids Camp in upstate New York. I started there during the summer between my freshman and sophomore year of college, and I haven’t stopped going there for a week out of my summer…until now. For a variety of reasons, Kyle and I couldn’t participate this year, and I want to pause and reflect on where my heart has been this past week.

Royal Family Kids, Inc. is an organization that puts on camps like our Houghton, NY chapter of RFKC for abandoned, abused, and neglected kids (ages 6-12). It’s a week of creating positive memories. It’s a week of being at total surrender and abandon and being humble enough to have a servant’s heart while creating a safe, loving, and fun environment. My first two campers were two sweet, beautiful, eight years old princesses, and after my first year of doing RFKC, I was hooked.

RFKC is family. And that family is a tie that binds across the country, and I have felt that pull in my heart this week. I can’t possibly explain to you the feeling that is inside of me when I think about this camp, and I can’t even begin to describe why this camp means so much to me except to tell you that it’s the closest thing to heaven on earth that I have ever experienced. There’s big burly men having tea parties with 8 year olds; my husband dresses up in a dress just to make kids laugh; we make fun of the counselors; grown women and men with a variety of professional degrees are singing songs with hand motions and making faces at each other…there’s cohesion. There’s love. There’s family.

My heart is aching to be at RFKC getting my face painted and tucking two girls into bed after we pray together and read bedtime stories. I want desperately to be chasing kids around through activities while they paint, build rockets, and make crafts. I have never experience deeper Christ-like behavior than I have at RFKC looking into my fellow counselors and staff members faces and seeing their complete relinquishing of their own needs in order to be present for children who need it the most. Miracles happen at RFKC. I don’t say that lightly. I say that with the utmost respect for God. I’ve seen kids come off that bus at the beginning of the week and not be able to look anyone in the eye, convinced that this was just another place that they were sent to get away from whoever is in their past, refusing to become attached to anyone and anything, only to transform through the week into a kid running to get into the pool, making friendship bracelets, singing all of the camp songs up on our stage in front of the camp. One of my girls last year was incredibly quiet and shy, and she performed a song-and-dance number with her fellow cabin mates at our talent show at the end of the week in front of the whole camp. Miracles.

One of my girls last year “graduated” from camp, and I got to say a few words about her and to her during our ceremony that we have to send off our graduates into a world that is scary, but full of potential for them. I got to hold her and see her turn her face up at me, both of our eyes filled with tears, and I received the privilege, along with the rest of the camp, to speak toward and into her future. These are moments I will never forget because, by trying to serve to the best of my ability, I have been transformed by RFKC.

My heart is not in California this week. It’s in the pool (who am I kidding I stopped swimming with those kiddos years ago); it’s on the speedboat; it’s watching my campers catch their first fish. It’s holding art projects, running to and from activities, and doling out portions at meals. It’s not showering for days (me and the campers); it’s staying up too late visiting with my old professors catching up; it’s hugging little ones who are scared of the dark. I love my family over at RFKC, and I desperately yearn to be with you all this week. Kyle and I missed being crazy with abandon with all of you. Blessed be the tie that binds, and we definitely felt that tie this week.

Love, love, love to all of you…you’re doing Kingdom work in the lives of those little ones. I’m proud to know all of you.”

– Carly Trask-Kuchta (RFKC Counselor)