Written By Camp Director Ben Smith
As the campers arrived, Mama Rose was surprised when *Davion walked up to her with a smile and gave her a hug. Davion had been sent home early last year because he and his brother were stealing from the camp store. Then again, it made sense since she and another staff person had stayed with them the three hours they waited for their family to pick them up. During that time of waiting, they had reminded the boys about hating the right thing. For the brothers, this meant hating stealing which ruined their week of camp instead of hating us or camp. A year later we could see Davion had hated the right thing.
As week went on we could see Davion had a real hunger for God. The third day of camp our 15 yr old son Daniel put on a yellow shirt and stepped in for one of our older counselors who had to leave early because of health issues. Daniel, and his co-counselor Josiah, had one of the younger teams and they were the youngest of our counselors.
Tuesday morning, Daniel woke up just minutes before the 6:30 counselor meeting. Looking around the room he could see a flashlight illuminating pages of a Bible. Quickly dressing, Daniel wondered how his co-counselor had enough energy to be reading his Bible by flashlight that early in the mourning. As he headed for the door, Daniel realized it wasn’t his co-counselor Josiah at all, it was his camper Davion!
Not only was Davion hungry to know God but he also encouraged his team to memorize verses and serve in any way they could. Davion really wanted to win the Cabin Team challenge. Tuesday they had about 15,000 points and though the winners for the two older senior camp weeks only scored around 20,000 points, they were still behind by 4,000 points.
By Thursday morning, Davion’s Bears team had earned 35,000 points but the Panthers team led with 70,000 points! Winning isn’t everything but Davion’s team gave it their best shot, memorizing verses right through their rest time. At the awards time Thursday night Davion’s counselors gave him an award for Leadership and Determination. Davion also won the trophy for the most verses memorized!!
When I looked at the team scores the Panthers had an amazing 105,000! Then I realized there was a higher score still, the Bears team had pulled to first place with 120,000 points! For Davion and his team this wasn’t just about winning. This was also about perseverance, determination, and seeing themselves differently. Davion, no longer sees himself as the thief. He is a leader and an overcomer.
*Name changed for confidentiality
Children of prisoners are likely the most vulnerable children alive today. But their parents' sentences don't have to be theirs. We have found a week of camp can be a life changing experience, as these children find their true identity and discover that they are never alone.