Summer camps for foster kids restores robbed memories

This summer Connection and Compassion churches will be hosting two summer camps on the 7th Mile Farm exclusively for kids in foster care with the hope of giving them memories to cherish forever.

“These summer camps are not just camp for the sake of camp,” said Chris Yaughn. “These camps are intentional efforts to build relationships with our kids in foster care that can affect positive change.”

The two camps are very intentional in giving the kids unique things to do from paintball to water sliding to rock climbing and, one day Yaughn hopes, riding a giant zip-line across the camp.

7th Mile Farm’s paintball course comes complete with a Mooney M20 four-seater plane and a 10-foot-tall pirate ship. Yaughn told us that getting to go shopping for the plane was one of the very fun parts of his job. Credit: Eden Hodges

Yaughn was on the ground last year developing an outdoor recreational facility to serve at-risk youth in our community and children in foster care across the state, 7th Mile Farm.

“[These camps are] also intentional efforts to backfill a lot of our kids memory banks with positive memories, memories that they’ve largely been robbed of because of their circumstances.”

Each day is designed to give the kids a core memory, celebrating them in a talent show, princess ball and a grand birthday party. All the while the kids have volunteers to be with them one-on-one and do everything together.

When kids get to the camp, they’re assigned a color that corresponds with one of the houses and everyone in that house will do things together throughout the camp. Yaughn plans on making each cabin have a particular theme like wildlife or football. Credit: Eden Hodges

Yaughn used one of the kids who comes to the camp as an example. When he came to camp he was obsessed with the latest dance fad and tried it out at the talent show.

“When he did it everybody jumps up and yells and screams like he’s a rock star,” said Yaughn. “That’s his five minutes… and he’s famous for that, right? Afterwards he’s walking around like he’s a movie star. It’s unbelievable.”

Volunteering at summer camps

Both the Teen Reach Adventure Camp (TRAC) and the Royal Family Kids Camp (RFK) are chock-full of activities that need volunteers. Yaughn said they could use some help in setting things up or down or supervising some activity stations.

In addition, they’re looking for volunteers that can be one-on-one with a kid for their entire stay and photographers that can capture these moments for the kids to put in a photo album they’re given before they go.

Yaughn shows one sample photo album that was given to Izzy, a child who was later adopted. Yaughn’s office is filled with small mementos and notes that kids left with him.

“The goal is to backfill lost memories, but to be intentional about documenting them so that they have something tangible and tactile that they can take with them,” said Yaughn. “We’re attempting… to change that one life, to put in all the work so that we might impact the one.”

They’re taking volunteers 16-years-old and up for either camps to work the whole weekend and stay overnight. RFK camp features a princess ball where kids are taught to be knights and ride horses, complete with renaissance-period actors and clothing.

“The goal is to give our volunteers the opportunity to find their [one], to find their opportunity to make a meaningful impact on the world.”

Camp dates:

  • TRAC I (teens): June 9-12
  • TRAC II (teens): June 23-26
  • RFK (ages 6-11): July 8-11

Anyone interested in volunteering should email rfkc.statesboro@gmail.com or tracstatesboro@gmail.com.