My Experience at Camp Wonder
In June, 20 kids who are part of Sierra Forever Families mentoring program headed to Camp Wonder. This was the tenth year that Wonder provided a fun-filled outdoor weekend for Explorers (children and youth) and Guides (mentors).
I was one of the lucky volunteers who joined them.
Over the next two days, I observed an incredible amount of dedication on the part of the Sierra Forever Families’ Wonder staff and volunteers. Together, these dedicated people began working before the kids and teens awoke and long after they went to bed. Two of the volunteers were former Explorers, who had experienced camp in the past. I was especially impressed by their enthusiasm and hard work and their desire to ensure that this set of campers took away the same kind of experiences that they enjoyed in the past.
I witnessed the amazing resiliency of the Explorers. I have no doubt that a good portion of their confidence is due to the stable and positive adult relationships provided by their mentors. There is often an assumption that “foster kids” are bad. This myth was busted over the course of this weekend. The Explorers played and laughed. They talked and danced. They listened and challenged themselves. They saw the stars and were silenced in awe. They reached out to one another with support and encouragement. Not a single fight broke out. No one was picked on. No one was left out. They were united with each other and they were pals with their Guides.
The Leaders in Training, a group of Explorers who are older and have been in the program for some time, were given the opportunity to manage portions of camp operations. They led games, taught crafts and set positive examples. At an age where image is everything, they performed skits to make the others laugh. They tidied up and served during meal time. Most of all, they provided encouragement and support to the younger Explorers.
As the weekend came to a close, the Explorers and their Guides gathered for an awards ceremony. Each Explorer was recognized for how much they brought to the experience at Camp Wonder.
I feel so grateful to have been part of this experience and can’t wait to volunteer again in the future.