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Camp Duncan Gives Kelsey Hope

January 3, 2012

By W. James Edminson

Kelsey says she showed little anger toward her father during the trial. Although his abuse had become unbearable, she was just glad it was over. After living nine years out of state, she was moving back to live with her mother.

In North Carolina, then 13-year-old Kelsey was given a new start. Her needs would be met in a safe environment. Her mother, who had been abused as a child herself, tried to comfort her daughter. But Kelsey’s anger was there – buried beneath hurt and denial.

“I was so mad,” Kelsey says. “I turned all my hurt toward my mom. I began to blame her for all that had happened.”

Kelsey began to close her mother out. She wouldn’t speak to her. She became destructive and distrustful. Finally, she began associating with dangerous people.

“I didn’t care,” she says. “They were doing bad things, but they took up for me. They had my back. I felt I could trust them.”

Even though she was not doing the things her friends did, people began to associate her with them – “they thought of me as trouble.”

Kelsey’s mom didn’t give up. She learned about Camp Duncan from a friend and, one day, Kelsey came home and her mother had the paperwork.

“Me at a girls’ camp?” Kelsey remembers thinking. “Yeah, right.”

Camp Duncan near Aberdeen is a wilderness camp for girls. It provides opportunities for girls and their families to work out problems. Through building relationships and the use of team dynamics, deep hurts are healed and lives are changed. Located on more than 600 acres in the state’s sandhills, the camp offers the freedom of being outdoors while providing structure with constant, caring supervision.

“One of the first girls I met at Camp Duncan told me, ‘they’re not going to give up on you’ – that they would ‘love me unconditionally,’” Kelsey recalls.

Now 16-years-old, Kelsey is the first person to say that she has changed. The hurt and anger is subsiding. She and her mom are getting along better and Kelsey says she is learning to trust.

“Looking back, I realize my mom did everything to help me,” Kelsey says. “I can’t understand how I got that bad.”

But Kelsey is most proud of the change inside. She has accepted Christ as her Savior and says she is beginning to grow as a Christian. She is caring what other people think of her and is determined to associate with people who build her up and not tear her down.

“I have so much more respect for myself now,” she says.