When I was four, my mother told me she didn’t love me and told my aunt to come and take me away. I remember waiting on the doorstep in the cold for my aunt. My life fell apart that day. I felt there was no one I could trust.
After that, I slowly went downhill. I was angry and created chaos
everywhere I went. I didn’t know how to handle being abandoned.
I stole things. I lied. I began avoiding everyone who cared for me—
even my aunt who was trying to help. One of the ways I coped with
my problems was playing video games. I tuned everything out. I played for hours each day. I gradually spiraled out of the control and got in trouble at school. The department of social services became involved.
Once I entered high school, I got a job. I could have used this time to make extra money and help my aunt, but I was charged with grand theft at the restaurant where I worked. The owner told my aunt if she found help for me, he would drop the charges. That’s when my aunt learned about Cameron Boys Camp. She discovered it was a wilderness residential program that helps at-risk boys work through their problems.
Now at Camp, I started doing the same thing. I didn’t take it serious. I was so used to avoiding help and doing my own thing
that I didn’t take advantage of all that was offered to me. The traumatic events from my earlier life caused me to tune it all out—my aunt, the chiefs, my group—everyone who was trying to help.
I became tired of arguing so much. I was exhausting myself trying to prove how I had been wronged and defending my actions. Since I didn’t trust anyone after my mom left me on the porch, it was difficult to accept help.
But no one gave up on me and, slowly, I began building relationships with the other boys and chiefs. Once I did that, I was able to trust them. I was able to care. I was able to care for myself and my actions. I began to care for others. In April of 2022, I realized
I needed Jesus. All the bad things I’d done were weighing on me and I knew I needed a savior. Over a home visit with my aunt, I went to church. When I was there, I read Ezekiel 36:26, “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.”
Immediately after reading this verse, my preacher shared the exact scripture. That’s when I knew God was calling me personally. It was then and there that I asked Jesus to lead my life. It has been the best decision. It hasn’t been a perfect journey since then but
I’ve been steadily growing in my faith. At Camp, I began to work on my goals even harder. I’ve been working on several goals throughout my time at Camp, but the most recent goals were:
• I will respect authority by taking initiative, supporting them and trusting they will meet my needs.
• I will be proactive by being thoughtful and using the Apostle Paul’s writings as my guide.
• I will be trustworthy by being honest about my feelings, words, and actions.
• I will show I care by being agreeable and letting things go.
The main goal I have worked on was the last one. When I started doing this, all the others began to fall into place. During my home visits, I wasn’t arguing with my aunt. I was being more respectful and I was helping out with my siblings. But as hard as I thought I was working, I was challenged to dig even deeper to reach my full potential. Instead of failing to trust and blowing the people in my life off, I decided to change, to readjust. From that time on, I pushed extremely hard for my fellow campers and my family.
Everyone has noticed my progress. My aunt saw my growth
and told me about it. She says I have become a different person since coming to Camp. I agree. I can hardly believe it is the same guy when I look at myself in a mirror. My group, especially my chiefs who had been with me the entire time, thought I was ready to go home and begin successfully living life. We all agreed. I was able to begin to make plans to go home and be successful with my family.
By accomplishing my goals and helping others,
I will be graduating camp on February 2nd. I plan to finish high school and go on to college. I have created a plan for my life, and have decided to go to Campbell University and come back as a chief. I feel God has called me to help boys in need and I want to be involved with Camp the rest of my life. I appreciate Camp for all the kindness and God-given grace they gave me. I am truly thankful for being given a second chance. I want to help someone else experience the joy of starting over.
Written by Ethan, 2023 Cameron Boys Camp Graduate
You can give help and hope to a boy like Ethan: As with all of Baptist Children's Homes' ministries, it takes the generosity of friends like you to help a child at Camp. Make a life-changing gift at bchfamily.org/givenow