Summer Camp is only a couple weeks away. It’s full of so much fun, sometimes it’s hard to quantify results. But though parts of our impact aren’t measurable, they can be clear as day. Let me tell you a short story:
Andy (not his real name) is 9 years old, small in stature and sweet in nature. He lives with his mother – a clear victim of trauma herself – sister, and father-figure who leans heavily on a drug habit. Together, they make a home in a one-bed motel room. This boy wears a visible weight on his shoulders… a disillusionment or hopelessness you don’t see often in kids. It saps his joy and playfulness.
But a few good days into the first week of summer camp, as I dropped him off, he walked to the front of the bus and gave me a hug as he left. I hugged him back and told him “he was a good man” as I often do with the boys. He stepped off the bus into the heat and began his trek to the 4th floor. A minute later, he came back to the bus and popped his head in the doors. Holding back tears, he choked out, “I will hug you goodbye every day the rest of summer camp.”
That’s a moment I will never forget.
In the weeks after, we saw joy return to this young man. During group games, he would get so excited he didn’t know what to do with the extra energy and will suddenly shout exuberantly. At CCN, he’s found staff and volunteers who love him, space to be a kid again, and friends who don’t bully him like the ones at the motel.
This boy is no longer in the program, but this interaction is something that lives on in the work we do. We believe even a hug and a kind word can break through to a heart starved of emotional freedom, physical safety, and real affection.
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