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Keith Keeps High Standards

June 20, 2011

By W. James Edminson

Sixteen-year-old Keith has memories of meeting his father when he was four years old. He remembers being lifted by his father to rest on his shoulders. He remembers laughter and good times.

But Keith’s father and mother have been only fleeting memories. It is his aunt he calls Mom.

“We have had our problems,” Keith says, “but she has always been there for me. I love my aunt. I love her very much.”

It was love for Keith and Keith’s run-in with the police that led his aunt to seek help. In 2008, Keith came to Cameron Boys Camp – Baptist Children’s Homes’ wilderness camp for boys.

“Going to Camp was a great thing,” Keith says. “It was good for me.”

At first he says he made some dumb decisions, but he learned to trust the other boys and he realized the Camp’s Chiefs were there to help and support him. Keith began to change. And even though he knew about God before coming to Camp, he had never accepted Christ. One night, he did.

After nearly two years at Cameron Boys Camp, Keith was ready to move on. But moving back to live with his aunt was still not a good option. Keith would decide between going to military school or BCH’s Oak Ranch in Broadway. He chose Oak Ranch.

“I realized there was still more for me to learn when I left Camp,” he says. “I was nervously excited about going to Oak Ranch. I knew I would miss the group support of the campers. Oak Ranch would be like living in a real home.”

Now a junior in high school, Keith makes As and Bs. It is different from his days in middle school when he goofed off and refused to do his homework.

“I wanted to fit in,” he recalls. “I got picked on and so I started doing things to be one of the guys.”

Today, Keith is a leader and not a follower. He has been impacted by strong role models like the Chiefs at Camp and the houseparents at Oak Ranch.

“I see them use their gifts to help others,” Keith says. “They do things for other people not expecting anything in return. I want to be like that.”

Helping to care for the horses at Oak Ranch and Keith’s love for dogs has kindled an interest in becoming a veterinarian. But he confesses that he also dreams of returning to Cameron Boys Camp to become a Chief.

“I know other guys say they are going to go back,” he confides, “but I really think I want to do it. I think about it a lot.”

Keith is open to the other boys at Oak Ranch coming to him for help. He wants them to know it’s important to do things right. He says he won’t judge them.

“I want to be known for standing up for what I believe in,” he says, “even if I’m doing it alone.”