“I was first placed in foster care while in kindergarten. I was very young then, but this is one of my earliest memories. My parents were going through rough times. My father was an alcoholic and had trouble maintaining a job. He was usually getting arrested by the police. My mom tried too, but she was a drug addict. I went in and out of foster homes from the ages of 5 to 8. During those years, I was mad that I had to move around so many times and live with so many strangers. In my mind, I always knew that somehow I would go back home to my parents. The last time I was taken away from my parents, my dad had asked me if I thought calling the social worker was the best thing to do, and I agreed. The police came and took us away to the police station, where a social worker picked us up and separated the four of us. Being the oldest, I was usually placed alone so that my brothers and sister could be placed together in the same home.
I felt lonely during those years, but I knew that sooner or later, I would reunite with my family. When I found out my dad had died and my mother had fled home to Mexico, abandoning us, my heart sank. Even in my young nine-year-old mind, I was beginning to grasp the big picture. We would be stuck in foster care indefinitely. I was a tough kid by this point. I sucked it up and maintained as best I could in every home I was placed; 13 foster homes in all. My last foster dad adopted me when I was 13. He gave me and my second oldest brother, Randy, a good home. I still maintain a good relationship with my adopted dad. He encouraged me to think ahead about my future and what I wanted to do with my life. I wanted to join the army. He agreed it was a good idea to serve my country and set up a foundation of success for my life.
I first came to RFKC in 1993 through St. Andrews church in Newport Beach. I was nine years old at this time. I had lived in a group home in Anaheim Hills from 1992-1996. My first impression of RFKC was it being full of very nice people who honestly cared a lot about us. I had no role models at this time in my life as all the staff members in the group home where women. I grew attached to uncle Ken and aunt Kerry. They were in their mid 20s when I met them. I thought Ken was an awesome guy, and I liked hanging out with him at camp. He was the “uncle” for my first and second years at camp. He finally became my counselor in my third and last year at camp.
Every year I wished I could go back to camp and live there forever. I used to go to bed thinking about it as my happy place. I even thought that the camp counselors lived there all year long! Ken began to visit me every week and took me to church on Sundays at St. Andrews. We maintained our relationship even through the many moves in my life. I still go over to his house and visit him and his wife Kerry and their three kids. He has been a big brother to me for most of my life, and we will probably be friends for a very long time. I still look to him for guidance.
RFKC was a place full of good people who wanted to make a difference in young kids lives. Before camp, I had never gone to church before, and did not know anything about God. I was given my first Bible and taught Bible stories. I know this camp made a huge impact on my life.
Every day my camp counselor and my roommate got up early and go hiking with the other boy’s cabins. It was such a relief to get away from my group home with all the yelling and screaming going on there every day. Our first camp was situated passed Six Flags Magic Mountain in a huge campground. It had hiking trails in the Hills, big flat grassy fields, a basketball court, and my favorite, the big pool. It was hard to say goodbye at the end of the week and know that we were going back to our foster homes.
This summer will be my fifth year as a camp counselor. I have never met so many good people in my life. Everyone volunteered vacation time to come to camp. I thought that since RFKC had made such a huge impact in my life, I should help keep that tradition going strong. I had never known Jesus until camp, and now I am helping kids learn about Him for the first time as well. It is a good feeling knowing that unconditional love has been introduced to them.
I love hanging out with the kids and other counselors and staff members. Everyone is so friendly, and is there to have a really good time. I still wish I could live there all year long!
Someone once asked me if I could go back in time and be back again with my real parents, would I do it? I thought about it seriously, and replied that I would not give up my current life to start all over at eight years old. I have met so many good people, had so many good experiences with my friends, coworkers, and family that I cannot dream of giving away all my good memories. God gave me my life for a reason.
The only week I get off every year I spend entirely in having the privilege of being a camp counselor. I get to help spread the love of Jesus to kids who really need Him in their lives. I try to tell them to hold their heads high, because someday they too will have the opportunity to become a person who makes a difference in the lives of others. There is no better feeling in the world than to see a young abused kid happy again. To give him or her hope for a better future is indescribable!
For many years now, Royal Family Kids has been spreading across the country and the world, reaching out to foster kids, and giving them the experience of getting to know who Jesus is. It is a great organization full of very caring people. I hope to continue being a camp counselor for as long as I can. I love going to camp and being a kid again. I hope that you enjoyed my story and can spread the good news about our camp.”
Alex (former camper)