Yesterday we finished up with Group 1 ‘s camp. Had to deal with some behavioral problems with 1 teenage boy in particular, many times during the day, so I was pretty tired by the night time. When 5 Swedish guys and 2 male translators come to you and say “Please remove him from our group, now!” then, you know, it’s not so great 🙂 This was this individual’s first time at camp since he arrived at the orphanage this fall. I think it was kind of a shock to his system to be at camp. People there who love him, want to spend time with him, want to talk with him, want to play football with him, want to take care of him… Going from nothing to all, in any sort of situation, would probably put us into shock. I guess I would compare a first time of camp for one of our kids/teens to someone who has been starved of food for a long time and then all of a sudden taken to an all you can eat buffet. Can you imagine…the shock at what’s available, the desperation to get to all of the food, how angry they might get at all of the wait staff (even though they are there to help) because they feel they are standing in their way and then the severe regret later because of the overeating and the consequences of that… We experienced all of this with “C” this week, even the regret. With another one of the boys’ help he wrote a letter and delivered it to the team today when they went to pick up the next group of kids.
“Please forgive me for how I acted at camp. I am so sorry and I ask you, from your heart, to please forgive me.”
One step – we’ll take it. The more these kids/teens can recognize and respond in a way like these, regardless of the situation, the more successful future they will have. It means that, despite his actions during camp, that he came to trust us. Please pray for him, that God would continue to work MORE healing in him – that he would become a story of success in the middle of awful statistics of those who grew up in institutions.
The following excerpt is from an intensive report done on abandoned children throughout Central and Eastern Europe. It can give you an idea about the future for the kids we work with due to an institutionalized childhood. Here is the link for the full report : http://p-ced.com/reference/Family_Matters_summary.pdf
7. Institutions are almost always harmful for children’s development. Since the 1940s and the pioneering work of Goldfarb and Bowlby, the damaging effects of large-scale residential institutions on the development of children have been clear. These include delays in cognitive, social and motor development and physical growth, substandard healthcare, and frequent abuse by both staff and older inmates. Young adults who have spent a large part of their childhood in orphanages are over-represented among the unemployed and the homeless, as well as those who have been in jail, been sexually exploited or abused substances. There are, of course, some children who, for a variety of reasons, cannot live in a family. For them, some kind of institutional care may be better than living on the streets. However, these children are relatively few in number.
Institutionalized living isn’t easy on the staff working there either. 2 staff, or sometimes only 1, for a floor with up to 18 children – none whom would act, although severity does differ for each child/teen, in ways that we would consider “normal.” When I lead group times with the kids I have up to 10 and there are usually 2 of us. There are days where I am crushed down by the weight of their needs and their problems in that 2 hour period. I cannot imagine being 1 staff, for a 7 hour shift, by myself with 18 of them. I just cannot…
By the way, I’m just going to let you know now, that a crime was committed at camp this week. It wasn’t pretty. It involved not only the local police, but the FBI, Special Agents, civilians, a doctor, and “the head of police.” Yes, the boy group made their video to be shown at the evening gathering. This is a tradition at the Swedish camps that each “family group” (and this year we had a male “family group” and a female “family group.”) makes a video during free time to show at night. So, here’s the photo from the scene of the crime. I know, technically I shouldn’t have been there being female and all but….how else would you have proof of the crime??
Just so you aren’t worried, he came BACK ALIVE at the end of the film. I know, can’t believe it myself 🙂
Moving on! Today we picked up the next group of kids for the next round of camp. There is SUCH JOY being with these kids at camp. And there is something extremely special about this particular group this week. I think that my friend and I hit the nail on the head with the mixture of kids this week. Such peace, such excitement, such joy, hardly any complaining, such lightheartedness, such conversation, such connections….I could go on and on. So many of us today, it seemed almost, filled with the laughter of the Holy Spirit when with them! That’s the only way I can really describe it. I couldn’t stop laughing today, and not because I was making fun of anyone. It was just being with the children that I couldn’t contain my joy – it had to come out. I noticed others on the team as well, laughing – just laughing with pure joy by being with these kids.
I think, too, having the first group for the very first time at this camp finally being over has taken some stress away. The unknowns of the camp facility and program have been worked out and we feel, at least in my opinion :), grounded in what we’re doing for this camp. I think I might actually sleep through the night, tonight. The last time I remember sleeping through the night – without waking up even once – was on the 4th of May. I remember that, not because I’m good with numbers – you can ask my Dad, I’m awful with them, but because it was my first court date for Caleb’s adoption. I slept the entire night through. I think tonight I might as well! Bring on the sleep baby!
Today was stress free, or at least less stressful, also because Caleb and I had until 11am at the apartment this morning. We cleaned his room, I cleaned the bathroom and he did his chores. While making some calls about camp I heard, from his bedroom, a CD of Mozart’s symphonies. I crept into spy on him and he was just face down on his bed…not sleeping but throughly exhausted. My little man has been a TROOPER this past week. We had an hour on his bed together, just listening to the music and being silly. We both needed that!
I’m been scheaming for a couple of days now about the next blog post. I tried to get the photos I needed today but didn’t work out. Stay tuned for a very fun aspect of having our camp facility in a small village!
In lieu of camp photos…here are my lovely, Swedish tomatoes on my balcony….and sweet corn (only planted for shade)…and wildflowers….and basil out of control. I have 3 garden areas at the volunteer house as well. Planted there are another variety of Swedish tomatoes, green onions (our neighbor gave me 100 to plant – yikes!- after he thinned his out. I planted about 20 and then called it quits.), strawberries and 2 types of beans. Note to anyone who wants to live in Romania and plant tomatoes. Swedish tomatoes GO CRAZY here. They have an amazing response to extra sun but definitely are used to more rain, a lot more rain, so you have to water much more frequently. The results though, most definitely worth it!!