August 1, 2007

Cambodian Heritage Camp 2007

I can never seem to put into words how I feel about camp. I am honored and quite blessed to have been given the opportunity to participate and experience such a beautiful thing. No matter how much one reads about the experience or look at the pictures, I don't think they'll ever understand what the weekend is like until they experience it for themselves. I encourage everyone who is interested in such a great organization to apply for years to come. I am definite that camp will continue to grow... so it only means that we're going to need more counselors, facilitators, and families to join us in the future!

As I have stated before in one of my many ramblings either in this blog, forums, or general discussions elsewhere... camp is so much more than it seems. When I first heard about camp, I was definitely interested and insisted on witnessing it all for myself. My first year at camp (2006) was an amazing and memorable experience. Definitely a few days that I will remember and reminisce today and in the future.

Its definitely heartwarming to see that there are so many generous and kind hearts out there who want to give these orphans a place to call home. We seem to take things for granted everyday and sometimes we forget that there are those out there who don't exactly have a home like most of us do. There are people out there who don't have people to call "family" initially... but lets face it... we all need our families... it being our biological families, adoptive families, or extended families. I can only imagine how lonely it would feel to not have a family to call my own... and no one should have to feel that sense of loneliness.

Most people are blessed to have a loving home and family at birth... but there are some who are not as fortunate. Can you imagine how it would feel to try to survive in a third world country with no shoulder to lean on or a hand to help when you need it most? They are not deprived of these things by choice, but by fate. Life seems to throw many obstacles at us and usually its up to us to dodge the obstacles, fix the problems, or lend a helping hand when needed.

I have gained a high amount of respect and admiration for adoptive families... parents. Raising a child is not an easy task... much time, money, and dedication is needed. To welcome another human being into a home and a family with open arms is a beautiful, difficult, and generous gesture that not everyone has the initiative or heart to do. I am thankful for these people to have given so much to people who were once strangers.... Thank You. It just goes to show that the people are selfless and have big hearted... and there's not too many of them out there.

We can't seem to thank them enough for giving children of our country a warm and safe home and family to turn to... but to take the initiative to send their children and themselves to camp is just a whole new level. To see that they care so much for their children to want their children to know the culture and people of their birth country is much more than anyone could even imagine to ask for. I am proud to see that people of other races appreciate and value our culture so much for them to take their time and spend so much effort into their attendance at camp. This is why I get so worked up when people are pessimistic about the intentions of camp and the attendees. To all the people who have said negative things, I am sure you'd swallow your words back if you were to only witness it for yourselves.

Parents and families... Thank You.

I admit that camp is and always had been a great place to meet people and create everlasting friendships with. Please don't assume that the main intentions of all the volunteers is to meet people and hang out. Matter of fact, the time that we have to ourselves (counselors) is very little. Our schedules are jam packed. Let me give a rundown of what the days are like:

Breakfast by 8am

Pick up kids between 8:30am-9am

Attend workshops with our groups up until noon

Lunchtime from noon until 1pm
(We all lunch together... and most kids are with us during this time)

Attend more workshops with our groups from 1pm-4pm

Breaktime after kids are picked up from 4pm-4:30pm

Dinner around 5pm-6pm

Scheduled activities w/ the families around 6:30-7pm until 10pm or later

Back to our cabins where we actually REST or mingle until curfew at midnight where we return to our seperate boy/girl cabins

... day starts all over again the next morning.

You see... the volunteers are not spending anywhere from $200-$500 on airfare just to go meet and mingle with their peers. We're there truly for the kids. We are not the richest of people and we have our schedules that we take time out of to attend camp. Sure, meeting and working with our peers is pure icing on the cake and it is very memorable and an honor to be able to work with such great people who share the same feeling towards camp and its people -- WE LOVE IT ALL.

Counselors -- I love you all. Its great to have met and know such loving, caring, and selfless people. I don't think I've ever worked with such a cooperative and dedicated bunch in anything. I can honestly say that the children at camp definitely have great role models to look up to... and so do I. The unity and smiles that y'alls bring and allow me to witness is very empowering... thank you. I hope to keep in touch with all of you and hopefully we can all work together to strengthen the growth of camp. I love how we all bond and are free to express ourselves in respectable manners... together. I can't wait to see all of you again... honest.

Thank you to all the friends that I have made and to the many that I have learned so much from. There isn't another group of peers that I would rather work and collaborate with... y'alls are just too awesome for any more words.

And now... to my kids... I miss y'alls. I don't know why I'm getting all teary just thinking about you guys. Never have I thought that little strangers that I only spend a few days with can change me or mean so much to me. You munchkins are a handful, yanno that??? But I would lose sleep over you guys any day and any chance I am given the opportunity. You may see me as your role model... but just know that you guys are MY role models too! Such bright children... feisty and amazing... ahhhh... I can't think of all the right words to describe you guys because you guys are just too much!

I know that it was kind of awkward at first, but you guys were so free spirited and took my hand as your friend almost immediately! I know that I might have sounded "mean" if I told you that I can't be your partner or hold your hand, but it was only because I had to be fair to all nearly 20 of you in my team. If I could, I'd have 20 hands for each of you to hold and 20 laps for each of you to sit on! You may not realize this, but I really do feel all warm and giddy inside whenever you guys give me hugs or kisses on the cheek! I love how we were all so energetic and so ready to chant out our team colors whenever we had the chance. Y'alls definitely got spirit... yes you do!

Spending time with you guys was just amazing. I had more fun during those few days with you than an entire year without you... no joke! I didn't want to leave either. When you tell me that I'm like your big sister and that you look up to me, thats the biggest compliment I've ever received. Trust me when I say that I miss you much much more than you can ever miss me because its been nearly two weeks now and there's not a day that passed that I didn't go through your pictures or talked about you to one of my friends or coworkers. You guys really did leave a footprint in my heart (figuratively speaking of course). I sit here and wonder how you're doing and what you're doing... all the time!

We'll see each other again next year... that I promise you. And yes Jenny... even if we aren't in the same group, we'd still hang out every chance we get. Lunchtime is short, but we'll make time... I promise again.

I love you all...

P.S. I really wish I can share all of my kids' pictures... but I respect the parents' wishes to not post them. Please don't be surprised if the only pictures you see are of the counselors and other volunteers... they are all a huge part of camp as well. :)

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