First of all, let me thank the many of you who responded by supporting family camp. You are making some really amazing things possible.
Nearly our entire campus packed up and left Monday morning, heading for the mountains near Las Vegas, NM. As the van reached the camp, kids spilled out already telling stories having visited the Blue Hole in Santa Rosa, NM. (If you aren’t fully aware of what the Santa Rosa Blue Hole is – it’s a jump off a cliff into a 60 degree natural spring, and it’s a pretty unique and worth-the-experience roadside attraction.) We laughed as they told stories of losing their breath as they hit the frigid water. I love that they are already doing things they didn’t know existed and expanding their worlds… and we are just getting started!
Right off, Family Camp began – initiated with a dance-off led by our own Mountain man “Everett Eugene Esquire III Twice Removed” who introduced our kids to bluegrass music and mountain dancing.
Thus welcomed to camp, we quickly broke the kids and adults into their teams for the week and had some friendly competitions, then finally broke to eat.
After dinner, a time of worship and a lesson on gaining freedom in Christ from destructive thoughts and patterns which hold us captive took us into a contemplative, quieter place of personal challenge after the boisterous and crazy hullabaloo of the afternoon.
We wrapped up the day with our traditional first-day “night hike”. All 60 of us headed out into the woods in the dark. We crossed creeks, traversed suspension bridges and kept our eyes peeled for bears (of course, the chance of our campus of chattering children sneaking up on anything is mighty slim).
While the entire day was filled with purposeful activities, learning, relationship building and fun, the hike was my absolutely favorite part.
I rambled for a while with the young kids who wanted to stop and look at every rock and worried and asked if there was a bear behind each tree. I trekked with kids who had been with us years past and listened to them proudly tell stories of last years hike which, you might remember, included a wrong turn and a 3 hour wander ending in the early morning hours. I spent some time with the older boys who were begging to go further and hike longer. I walked alongside kids who came to our campus just last week, who were picking up rocks to take home and keep as memories
Each kid was experiencing the situation differently and in a distinctly personal way. It struck me that this is what we are doing at ACH. Us, You, We… We are all supporting the hard work of walking kids into the wilderness… their wilderness.
Some have questions, some are angry that their hopes aren’t being realized, some pick up rocks and hang on to memories, some see danger behind every obstacle… but just like this hike, we place caring adults in the line to journey ahead, behind and beside kids as they courageously enter their personal dark forests.
At the end of last night, we returned home – safe…. tired…. proud of the hard work our kids had done and treasuring the experience.
Thank you for making Amarillo Children’s Home a place where kids can explore, discover and do the difficult, yet rewarding, pursuit of “night hiking”.