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Lila goes from anger toward God to trusting in Him

Updated: Jun 26

The abuse Lila suffered lingered in her thoughts, keeping her trapped in a place of mistakes and bad choices. She felt that she was sliding into her mother’s dangerous lifestyle. The hostility between her divorced parents burdened her as she tried to mediate, taking “on more responsibility than I should have as a kid.” Her frustration became anger. She was becoming someone she didn’t recognize. She needed help.

Going to live with her dad was a start, but Lila’s hurt didn’t go away. “I felt I had to hide the pain. As much as I tried to keep it buried, my dad saw it. That’s when he got in touch with Camp Duncan.”

Camp Duncan for Girls is one of two Baptist Children’s Homes’ residential wilderness camps. Camp Duncan, located near Southern Pines, is dedicated to changing lives. Girls experience the freedom of being outdoors while living in a small group at a campsite with three counselors or “Chiefs.” With the help of her peers and Chiefs, a camper learns discipline, positive behavior patterns, and self-worth. The year-round program helps campers and their families overcome personal and family struggles.

Lila was 15 when she came to Camp Duncan. The previous seven years of her life had been hard. Her parents divorced when she was eight years old. She wanted them to stay together and be happy. Instead, she and her older sister began to live a broken life, splitting their time between each parent. She felt her life fall apart.

It was not magically better after coming to Camp Duncan. Lila’s

anger was still there. She didn’t want to talk about the hurt and ended up yelling at the other campers and Chiefs. “Honestly, I must have been one of the worse girls ever to come to Camp.”

Lila grew tired of holding onto the past and decided to give Camp a chance. Away from her parents and the life she was living. No cell phone. Living outdoors. A fresh start. “I realized I could talk about the hurt,” she says. “As I shared more, it was like a flood pouring out. Just talking about things so I could begin to work through everything—it felt like I was moving to a place of peace.”

BCH’s wilderness camp program is Christ-centered. Campers have the opportunity to work out challenges and problems in order to experience healing and transformation. Lila accepted Jesus as her Savior last October and it has made all the difference.

“At Camp, we do ‘God stuff,’” Lila says. “Our Chiefs live out their faith in front of us. We learn about Jesus, study the Bible, and pray. I’ve gone from being angry toward God to believing in Him and trusting Him. I know He is bigger than the things that brought me down in the past.”

Now 17 and one of the oldest girls at Camp, Lila is aware of her role. The older girls help shepherd the newer girls who come to the group. The support the girls give each other helps them realize personal successes.

“I’m learning to be a friend,” Lila says. “I have not always made the best decisions, so I’m not sure if I want anyone to follow me. But I’ll walk with them—side by side. Our group has been through a lot together and they know I care.”

Lila and her dad are doing better. Their relationship is stronger. She is able to communicate her feelings, process what is on her mind, and not be impulsive but listen. Lila has begun talking with her mom. She guards herself from the possible hurt, but wants their relationship to grow. She is hopeful.

Lila is nearing the completion of her program and will return to live with her dad. The mistakes she has made have been opportunities “to grow and become a better person.”

“I think before I act now,” she says. “I’ve made plenty of bad decisions because I didn’t stop and think. I think about what could happen and make better choices.”

Being at Camp has allowed Lila to be a kid, to focus on herself, and to heal. She has experienced new things like canoeing a 230-mile-long river trip, building tents at the group’s campsite, and exploring nature. Once a struggling student, she is doing better and dreams of college.

“Most kids will never experience building a tent or seeing alligators while canoeing a river,” she says smiling. “We have fun. We work, play, cook, and sleep outside. It’s incredible.”

Once withdrawn, hiding in her bedroom, Lila is now determined to trust God, befriend others, and do what is best for her future.

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Written by Jim Edminson, Charity & Children Editor

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