My heart is too full right now...
I don't know what was different about this year's Kiwanis camp... I don't know what was different about this group.
I remember before going to Camp Vision, I was really nervous about being small group leader. I always try to avoid it because I don't know how to talk to the youths. And then I read Paul's advice to just think of a topic and then keep trying until it works.
So armed with that, I went to camp. And... I had the best time ever. Because for once, I didn't sit there like a boring dumb-mute; for once, I talked to the youths whenever there was a break or we were just waiting around... It made for the best camp ever as the youths opened up and I felt a sense of closeness with my team that was so awesome, I never wanted camp to end.
Fast forward to Kiwanis camp, and I wasn't particularly looking forward to it as I had caught a bad cough. Also, I admit a slight prejudice because half the kids, in my eyes, come from 'okay' backgrounds. To me, that makes for a 'boring' camp.
The first night, I don't know what happened. We had a time of sharing amongst our small groups, and... One by one, the youths in my small group shared their dreams, and broke down in tears as they shared secret wishes and struggles in their lives. I didn't know what happened, I just flowed with it. We stayed long after the other groups left, just sharing and sharing.
After that, we had a debrief amongst all the volunteers, and I told the others, I didn't know what happened. Yuen Li the founder of Nomad who had been listening in to my small group's sharing said, "I know what happened... You guys were REALLY listening."
My group didn't stop there... They kept sharing throughout the camp. We were far from being a high-performing team; in fact, I felt really guilty because their games results were rather low! But by the last night, they all agreed, this group was so different from any group they'd ever experienced in camps. There was so much support and acceptance of each other.
And as they shared, and shared, I heard stories that shocked me at the struggles and trauma the youths were going through. I thought, after all, the youths are not from shelter homes.... Only a few of them are. Yet, the stories of the youths were equally on par with those who were from shelter homes, as they shared of divorce, parents who had passed away, poverty, low self-esteem, violence in the home..
When I came home, as ever, I stayed in touch with the youths on FB. And I got to know other youths better, who were also from 'normal' homes. And they too, opened up and shared their stories.
I don't really know why that is happening. But I feel as if my cup is so full of the pain these youths have gone through. I only wish I knew now how to steer them towards 'what's next'...
And a part of me wishes I could run under a table and just hide for a while for the pain is getting too much.