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Baptist Children's Homes
of North Carolina
P.O. Box 338
Thomasville, NC 27360
Travis Conquers Personal Pain
March 23, 2012
By J. Blake Ragsdale
Unwanted and unloved – this is exactly how Travis felt. He spent his childhood believing his life was inconsequential to his parents. Instead of embracing their son, his mom and dad spent more time embracing their addictions.
“My mother was a cocaine addict and my father a drunk,” Travis reveals.
As a young boy, Travis would bounce back and forth from his mother’s house to his father’s house. His dad was often completely disconnected from his son because of his alcoholism. When with his mom, it was not uncommon for her to leave Travis alone at night while she went in search of her next high.
One evening, Travis’ mother stayed away days leaving her son with a friend she barely knew. News of this incident left Travis’ father distraught. Worried about his son, he called his sister Karen to see if she and her husband would take care of Travis while he sorted his personal struggles.
“My husband Daniel and our two children agreed that there wasn’t anything to discuss,” Karen recalls.“Travis was coming to stay with us.”
What the family could not prepare for was the raw emotion and anger the seven-year-old boy would bring with him. Travis completely shouldered the blame for his parents’ problems. But he was also dealing with severe trust issues regarding his mom. He took his frustration out on his aunt who was now Travis’ mother figure.
“While my uncle was at work, all my pain would come out on Aunt Karen,” Travis explains.
Years passed, but his parents’ personal issues did not improve. As a result, Karen and Daniel were granted permanent custody of Travis. And while the judge left the door open for his parents to one day gain visitation rights, or even regain custody, it was clear to Travis that they were not working towards that goal. His self-worth continued to plummet while his anger elevated to new highs.
One Sunday after the family returned home from church, Travis’ emotions erupted. “He said his parents didn’t love him, he wanted to die, and he wanted to leave,” Karen says. “We knew that through our family, his therapist and the guidance of our church, we had done everything we could for Travis. We reached out to Cameron Boys Camp for help.”
When Travis and his aunt and uncle first visited Baptist Children’s Homes’ residential wilderness program near Southern Pines, things clicked immediately for the thirteen-year-old boy.
“I knew I had to focus on taking care of myself,” Travis says. “It was like God was saying that Camp is the right place for me.”
Travis had become a believer and was baptized at his aunt’s and uncle’s church.
Cameron Boys Camp chiefs – counselors that provide guidance to the boys and live with them at campsites – and Camp social workers helped Travis understand how God could heal his hurt.
“I had hated God because of the things that had happened in my life” Travis explains. “Once I understood that these things weren’t my fault, I was able to recommit my relationship to Him. God has much better things in store for me.”
Through Camp’s Christ-centered focus and unique support structure, Travis shared about his pain and feelings for the very first time.
“Camp pushed me to deal with it,” he says. “The respect chiefs show us campers, and we show them, made me realize I needed to be doing that at home.”
Throughout his two years at Camp, Travis and his aunt and uncle attended family sessions with Camp staff. They have worked through the pain together.
“Aunt Karen is the mom I should’ve had,” Travis says. “Uncle Dan is like my second dad.”
Before coming to Cameron Boys Camp, Travis made the choice to cut off all communications with his mom and dad so he could focus on his goals. With the help of his family, Travis is making a careful reconnection with his father.
“He’s cut down on his drinking, and he has a job,” Travis says. “During one of my home visits to my aunt and uncle’s, dad came over with a basketball goal that we put up together. We’re enjoying a good relationship.”
Now fifteen years old, the dark days for Travis have receded. He will soon return home to his Aunt Karen and Uncle Dan.
“He has grown so much. He’s just radiant,” Karen says. “Camp gave him fertilizer both inside and out.”
Travis has shared his story of growth and healing in many churches. His poise and ability to articulate caught the attention of BCH President Michael C. Blackwell who has provided encouragement to Travis and has offered to coach him in his public speaking endeavors.
“Travis saw people at Camp, who weren’t his family, be completely committed to him and his healing,” Karen explains. “He saw churches come and support camp. Travis saw God’s hands and feet at work here on Earth. And everything everyone has done has made healing possible.”