• September 19, 2013

The Experience of a Lifetime - Camp Dudley

Camp Dudley at Clear Lake

By Mackenzie Karn, vol­un­teer at Heart’s Home Spokane

After nine months of living and serving together on the Gonzaga Campus, Amy, Jordan and myself trav­elled deep into the Cascade Mountains to spend a summer working at a YMCA camp. Just as in our home in Spokane, we aim to provide a com­forting home for those who are breaking, those who are weeping, those who are rejoicing and those who are healing, in Camp Dudley we strive to provide “The Experience of a Lifetime” to our cam­pers, to “love them to life.” As a camp coun­selor, we are asked to let the child be who­ever they want, and to search for some­thing deeply spe­cial about that child. We are chal­lenged to awaken their soul to the poten­tial that they hold. We love them through the pain of bul­lying, and being bul­lied, reit­er­ating con­stantly that they have worth and value. We suffer and we rejoice. We laugh and we cry. We live out the very same charism that we serve in Spokane.

One encounter in par­tic­ular that dwells in my heart is meeting a young boy named Angel. My little friend Angel has been coming to camp for as long as I have, and our first summer he was only eight years old. I remember Angel arrived dif­fer­ently than many cam­pers. While others had large suit­cases and fluffy sleeping bags, Angel had a pil­low­case with a change of clothes. But he also had some­thing that I noticed even more so than the dan­gling pil­low­case: a beau­tiful bright smile. After staff pro­vided him with a sleeping bag, extra clothes, and a tooth­brush (the first time he had his very own), I spent the week get­ting very familiar with that sparkling smile. As the sum­mers went on, Angel grew older and I started to learn a little more about his life at home. This past summer, no one thought Angel would be able to come to camp because now he was thir­teen, and expected to work 14 hour shifts for his family. But by the grace of God, Angel came up for not just one, but two weeks. As I spent time with the boy I had watched grow, he told me some­thing that I will not soon forget. When I asked him how things were with his family at home, he shook his head and said, “They want me to be a man. But I am not a man yet. I’m still a boy.” He began to cry, and I held him and cried, too. I knew that being here was his happy place, his place of mir­a­cles; his Bethany.

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