Category Archives: Notes from Royal Family KIDS Staff

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God Loves Me

“Welcome to RFK! As I’m sure you know, the hardest part about camp – at least for me – is trying to sum up or pick the highlights of the week. There are SO MANY stories that I could share, but I think one of the most powerful is this one.
We had a returning camper we’ll call “Brian” who was coming for his last year. He and his siblings came for the first time two years ago. Last year, his younger brother was too sickly to come, so it was just him and his sister. His sister graduated last year. This year his brother was again too sickly so that just left him.  Last year – unbeknownst to Brian –  his counselor moved to California after camp, but promised that he would return for camp in order to be there for Brian’s last year. Brian was all set to come to camp. In Brian’s home, his parents are physically and verbally abusive to each other.
On Monday morning, when the kids were arriving for camp, Brian’s mother emailed Jean and told her that Brian got an infection on his lip and would be unable to attend camp. No one really believed that that was the issue and my wife was emailing Brian’s mom, back and forth, encouraging her to allow him to come to camp.  Jean told Brian’s mom that Aaron, his counselor, flew in from California just for him. That meant so much to Brian. Unfortunately, it was too late for him to get ready.  We agreed that on Tuesday,  Aaron, one of the camp social workers, and another staff member would drive down in order to pick Brian up and bring him to camp.
Brian’s first two years of camp were very quiet. He didn’t say much at all. He enjoyed the activities, and he liked Aaron, but that was about it. This year, things were different!!  For one thing, he came to camp wearing his camper shirt from last year, along with a necklace he made in the art center. Also, from the minute that he got into the car, he was talking non-stop to Aaron. He said, “If you flew all the way from California for camp, I know God must love me.” Now the rest of his conversation wasn’t as comforting. He poured out his heart about what has been going on in his home. He was speaking quietly because he didn’t want anyone but Aaron to hear, but the Social Worker and the other staff member (our prayer warrior) heard everything as well – without showing that they heard. It gave insight into how the prayer warrior could pray and what the social worker(s) should look out for.
This was the year that Brian graduated. But we believe that over the last three years God has been planting seeds in the lives of Brian and his entire family. His mother, though going through unimaginable turmoil, is quietly blessed by the week’s worth of positive memories in the lives of her children.
Brian’s is just one of many stories…”
A story from James, Director of pre-teens in NY.
Donate now! To send even more derserving foster kids to camp.
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Buy 1 Give 100!!

Do you ever wish you could buy a really awesome t-shirt online and know that with your purchase, you’re also raising money to send a foster child to camp?? If so, we have some great news to share with you!! Now you can!! For the next 4 months, Hope Outfitters is partnering with Royal Family KIDS to raise $15,000 to give as many kids as possible the opportunity to have a life-changing experience at camp!

Thousands of kids in the foster system today have never been told that they are loved; they’ve never had a birthday party or a steady place to call home. We want to show them just how precious they are to God because when you find out that you are a SON or DAUGHTER of the KING, your life changes!!” 

Hope Outfitters is a non-profit organization that was founded in 2013 to make a difference. Since its inception, they have raised money for many different causes including digging wells in India, supporting an orphanage in Africa, and even supporting a local homeless shelter. Their slogan is their promise to their supporters: that for every 1 purchase, 100% of the proceeds is donated to the causes they support.

This is a movement away from greed, because we have seen the needs of those around us and can no longer sit back and do nothing.  With your purchase you’re helping to take care of the “least of these” and together we are becoming the salt and light of the earth.”

Buy 1 Give 100 today!! Let’s show our support for this amazing organization by purchasing some awesome gear and help send more deserving foster kids to camp!!

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Positive Changes

“I just wanted to thank all of the Royal Family KIDS Camp staff and volunteers for all that you do for kids. I’ve had a few kids that go to the camp and all of them LOVE the experience!

I’m writing today because I had a home visit with one of the children on my caseload on Tuesday. This particular boy has had behavioral issues since coming into care over a year ago. He refused to bond with his foster mother and was consistently in trouble at school and daycare. I would go over for a visit and he would hang his head and not want to interact. He had a very bad attitude in his foster home and had become defiant. And then….God.

I literally saw a different child. He was upbeat, smiling and laughing. He had an air of confidence that he did not have before. He was so excited to show me his scrapbook from camp and name all the new friends he met. He and his sister even showed me every song/cheer they learned at camp. His foster mother reported he has done a complete 180. She said she knows it was the camp experience and the many prayers that were said for him. She said she is so glad she didn’t give up on him and I am too. My heart was so full after that visit with him.

Thanks again. Royal Family KIDS Camp is a true blessing.”

– Case Worker

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Thank You RFKC!!

An encouraging letter. This is why we do what we do…

 

Hi Bart and Karen –

There is so much to thank you and dozens of others for with camp this year!  Do you take these moments to stop, and reflect how the memories of brief weeks will impact these kids beliefs for the rest of their lives?  Beliefs about themselves, about their abilities, about others, about God, about the ease of making friends, resolving conflict?  It’s just such a wow.  As I watched craft after prize after treasure emerge from their bags, things they had made, things important people had made for them.  And the photo books!  I’m a curmudgeon photo-wise, given that I have trouble with self love and photos, but their bringing these back out, just now and then, is enough to make me give up my Ebenezer chains and click away.

What really is important is this sense they have of “I did,” “I made,” “I jumped… rode… built….” I know it might sound odd, but I’m very pleased/relieved that you also found the boys’ tears to be concerning when I picked them up.  It was great to have my own report to Allendale about it validated, because I guess I can sometimes be overdramatic myself.  So, again, thank you.

In the end, on that score, I have been encouraged to A) acknowledge and empathize with their feelings of sadness and B) not let it drag out for 2 1/2 hours.   Their adoptive “grandparents” from CASA just kept saying what a good sign it was that the experience was THAT meaningful to them.  Which makes sense — in all my years of specialized/therapeutic foster and adoptive parenting, I have never encountered a case this complicated and twisted, where the boys’ roles are almost reversed with their bio parents.  There is so much love among them, which is rare and wonderful, still the pains so deep they’re kind of inexorable.   A week with no visits, no therapy, no double therapy.  Whew.

Tonight, for the first time, Nick (name changed for confidentiality) brought up the *possibility* that Zack may or may not be HIS actual counselor next year, as long as they were in the same cabin, and Nick didn’t get any older, lol.  It’s nice to see the boys processing in a healthy way.

So I hope we will be seeing you and other members when our schedules align!

Now, take the moment to breathe in what you’ve done for others, and the meaning of your work!

With love,

Dan (foster father)

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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)

 

Heart Hands

In God’s Hands

This week we have a story from the Royal Family KIDS Camp in Alaska!
Camp Testimony from Female Cousin (Counselor):

“It was a bittersweet camp this year – I was so blessed to have the same two campers I had last year, and one was graduating camp and moving out of state because she was being adopted. On graduation day we both cried because it was her last time at camp. She kept asking “Why does there have to be an age cutoff? I just want to be at Royal Family forever”. Through the tears, I told her this was super exciting because now she was equipped to go out and serve other kids and show them God’s love! Also, during the last night, lying in bed heartbroken, I kept imagining that tomorrow these kids would be walking out from under the safe umbrella that is RFK and back out into their lives, unprotected, unsafe, potentially harmed. I couldn’t stand the unfairness of it and asking God, “Why in the world am I so blessed?” My co-cousin offered a life-changing perspective. We have the opportunity to meet these kids and for a week, sow as much love into their hearts as we can. After that, it is out of our hands, but not out of God’s hands. Having met them, we can now lift them up in prayer by name and trust that they are in God’s hands. How encouraging! Thank you RFK for the opportunity to show God’s love in a tangible way.”
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Forgiveness Realized

Through Royal Family KIDS Camps, God is able to make a significant impact in the lives of these children. Here is another story about how one week, one child, one moment can last a lifetime!

 

 

We had been singing “I Will Change Your Name” each day in our chapel times. During chapel time on Thursday, I was sitting on the stage while everyone was writing down things they wanted to give to God. Beth (named changed for protection) came and sat beside me and started giving her “Testimony” using the words to the song. She wasn’t singing, but just saying the words. I will never forget what she said. She said, “I was Wounded”  (she did the motions to the song with her hands). She said, “My heart was broken into a million pieces and only Jesus has the Super Glue to put it back together, I was Lonely and Afraid, (Motions again), now I am Confident, and Joyfulness ( motions again).”  I said, “Now you are “One Who Seeks My Face”. She said, “No you forgot one!” then she did the motions for “Overcoming One” and said the words then she said, “One Who Seeks My Face”.  She went back to her seat and began to tell her counselor some of the things her step dad had done to her. Then she looked at her and said, “I used to wish my step dad would go there,” and pointed down (to hell). “But if the Pastor can forgive his stepdad then I think I can forgive mine.” If Beth had been the only camper we had, every dollar and every effort would have been worth it all for that precious little girl. I know that God hand-picked her to be there to let her know how much He loves and cares for her!

 

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One Week – All the difference…

Royal Family KIDS Camps are well underway this summer and already making a difference for so many campers! Here is a great story about the impact of a week at RFKC and how a mother believes it has a lasting impact on her child:

“I followed behind the bus back to church at the end of camp, parking one street over from the church because the church parking lot was full.  As I came into the church parking lot, a mom came towards me walking with her daughter, one of our campers. She was listening to her daughter talk quickly and excitedly about camp. The mom stopped me and asked me to wait a moment until she got her child into the car. She came to me and told me that this was her child¹s second year at camp and that her child had talked about camp the entire previous year, remembering and sharing her photo album and big moments and small moments about camp. Her Mom said, “I can¹t give my child much. I haven¹t even been able to keep her safe, but you¹ve enabled me to give her this week of camp, and it is the best thing she¹s ever known.  Thank you.”

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Treating People Royally

The stories coming out of our Royal Family Kids Camps are so amazing!! Here is an update from our Camp in Manhattan, KS:

“We had a red carpet entrance for our Royal Supper. We announced their name and what their name meant. Little girls, who were in formal dress-up dresses, were escorted down the red carpet to their supper table by some of our men volunteers. Girls were later crowned with tiaras (not toy ones) as God’s princesses and boys knighted into God’s army. One boy, E, his name means “strong”. He has struggled Monday and Tuesday with being smaller than other boys, not able to ” accomplish” much in his eyes. He commented to his counselor “My name means strong?” He has much more self confidence today. It was fun to see the girls at breakfast today with their tiaras on. We are ‪#‎treatingpeopleroyally‬

**The picture: “Getting ready for our first Royal Banquet!!! We are crowning our girls as Princesses of God and Knighting our boys as Knights in God’s Army. What a special moment for these kiddos to be given such a special significance! Praying they hold on to this throughout their lives as a moment of meaning and identity!”

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Camp is officially in session!

Camps are officially underway this week!! Please continue to pray over the kids and our volunteers. And continue to share your camp’s pictures and stories with us on social media by tagging @RFKids and using ‪#‎rfkids‬.

Here’s a quick snapshot of how things are going at our camp in Omaha:

Dear Praying Friends,

We had another great day at camp today. After a cool, breezy morning the sun came out for swim time at the lake!
We had a very fun talent show with the kids tonight. Each cabin group came up and performed a song, skit, or other talent.
Everyone cheered loudly for each act.

Here are some fun quotes and stories from today.

– in the camper workbook there was a question “What do you want to be when you grow up?” Camper D. looked over and asked “How do you spell camp counselor?”

– one of the girls turned to her camp counselor at lunch today and said “Can we stay here until we are 68 years old?”

– Camper A. was at the fishing dock holding her pole and standing very still watching the bobber for a long time. This really impressed her camp counselor because she can be pretty fidgety. Suddenly she caught a fish. Then she smiled and said “God was just telling me to be patient and so I just waited”

We are thankful for:
– girl camper M who has had two very good days even though she was coming out of a very difficult time in her life recently.
– a great team of volunteers who is really connecting well with the kids
– good health and safety for all of the campers
– kids that are asking questions about the Bible stories and wanting to grow in their knowledge of the Lord

Please pray for:
– boy Camper C. who has had a few anger and crying episodes each day…that he would know the peace that Jesus offers
– girl Camper S. who is withdrawn, we know she has suffered several losses in recent months
– for boy Camper M. who said he doesn’t believe in God, but is starting to ask more spiritual questions
– a few staff that have been sick and feeling weak

Below…Story Teller Amy is sharing the Bible account of Esther and also stories of Daniel, both of which fit in our Royal Kingdom Theme.
And…Dallas is helping a camper in woodworking. The kids are building basketball hoop table games.
And…we are preparing special gift bags for “Everybody’s Birthday” tomorrow.

We’re excited to see how God moves in the lives of our campers and counselors this week!