Darrin's Desk

Building a Connected Family Through Meaningful Magical Summer Experiences

July 11

Just like you, at Amarillo Children’s Home we have many yearly highlights that have slowly turned into traditions we look forward to experiencing together. Family Camp is one of those traditions.

Our kids have been running around all this past week selecting their water bottle and flashlight from the many you so lovingly provided, excitedly asking questions about the camp schedule (“will we go rafting again?”, “will we go repelling again?”, “will there be a night hike?”) and making plans and practicing for talent night.

The kids would say they love Family Camp because it’s so much fun; and it is. But for our staff, underneath the fun is a well-planned and utilized opportunity to create an experience that fulfills our mission: restoring our kids’ identities so they can understand their great value and become a blessing to others – and it’s a big part of our meaningful, magical summer together!

Your moments together as a family can have the same high impact and value.

First there is purpose in the very process of taking a vacation together. Many of our kids haven’t had the experience of going on a trip out of town. The packing, planning, anticipating  and driving an extended time in a vehicle together is an adventure in itself: through the “I have to go to the bathroom” and the “stay on your sides” and the “who did thats”, stories, memories and relational connections begin to be formed. Last year, after a few of our staff performed “There’s A Hole In the Bucket” in the talent show, hours in several vehicles on the way home were spent raised in song, building cherished shared memories.

Of course, at camp there is the obvious positive of being in nature and away from technology. It’s amazing how our brains function differently and how we relate to each other differently when we experience creation together and take time to enjoy it without the roadblock of cell phones and TV’s.

Then, there are the challenging activities that push us outside our comfort zones to face things we would otherwise avoid. Repelling off the side of a cliff, facing zip lines and high ropes courses, white water rafting… we do all of these to not only give our kids great experiences and shared memories, but to help them learn to overcome and to take hold of opportunities that come their way, even when those opportunities are scary.

A huge part of the value in these activities is the people on the ground – we challenge our kids so we can cheer them on and encourage them, and to teach them to cheer on and encourage each other – it’s a pretty cool thing to have a team of kids and adults cheering you from the ground!

Family Camp compounds our relationships with kids. Day-to-day life gives structure and stability – it’s the foundation of any family. But intentional time away provides opportunities to connect in new ways and allows quick growth in relationships and in the character of our kids.

Ultimately the most effective way to impact kids is through relationships with caring adults. That is the magic of Family Camp and can be the magic of time spent away with your own family! It’s not easy; it’s not just fun; it is the result of the purposeful and hard work of adults that care deeply for the future success and freedom of some really great kids. It’s “Family Camp” and it has become a tradition because when we return we will be a well-connected family… one that is restoring the identity of kids so they will understand their great value and be a blessing to others.

May you enjoy some magical, meaningful summer time with the ones you love this week!

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