A huge thanks to Beth for sharing her story at our Banquet for Hope on January 19, 2018. We are grateful for you being real about your camp experience, and so thankful to have you part of our Camp David family!
Read Beth’s story…
“When your loved one is taken away from you people normally gather around you in support. When your loved one is taken and put in prison, not only do they serve the sentence, but so do you and your children. Here’s my story…
At the age of 35, I had my first and only child. At the age of 41, my husband was incarcerated for an unthinkable crime.
I had been sheltered for all my life. Never got in trouble. Was never confronted with drugs. For the most part did not even know what drugs were. My parents were from a story book. They did not fight, always got along. Always smiling and laughing. Gave us kids just about everything we ever asked for. So for this to happen to me was just unreal. My son and I tried to go on like nothing happened, but that is not so easy either when everyone starts asking where my husband is.
So a year or so went by and we got a postcard in the mail from this place called “Camp David of the Ozarks” stating that they got my son’s name from Angel Tree and he was invited to a free week of camp. So being the good mother that I am, I go to the computer and look this place up. Hey, this looks cool! A camp for kids all with the same thing in common. A parent incarcerated. Sign him up! Maybe he’ll find someone to talk to about the way he is feeling.
So the week gets here and all of a sudden my venturous 8 year old doesn’t want to go. “You’re going and I’m sure you will have fun,'” I say. We get to the bus and he meets some of the kids. Already I’m dismissed (of course I’m crying). This is the first time in 8 years we will be apart. I’m not sure I can handle this.
So the week goes by and he comes home. All he can talk about is this camp, and the horses, and Mama Rose, and Papa Big Heart, and Micah, and all the fun he had and, “Can I go back next week?” I respond, “Maybe next year.” We get home and as I’m unpacking his stuff I come across this notebook. “Hey what’s this?” “Oh mom, come sit down and look!” In the notebook were pictures of everything he had done while at camp. That’s really neat. So he gets to relive it anytime he wants to.
Jump forward to September…I get another postcard in the mail from Camp David inviting me to a Mom’s retreat. The paper talked about breakfast in bed, meeting others in the same situation, but what catches me is I will get to see this camp. Well, of course we are going! I’m nosey and I want to see where my son went, and for heaven’s sake find out what Ga-ga ball is!
So the weekend comes and the road trip starts. Now at this time, my husband is in a prison about 30 minutes from the camp so the further we go and the closer we get to the turn for camp the more Dajavu’ I’m having. So we get to camp and everyone is so nice. They all remember my son and hug both of us. Then moms go one way and kids go another (tears start.) We go down to the basement of Grandpa Tom’s Cabin to “get to know each other.” Reality sets in. Everyone of these ladies is in the same situation as I am (more tears); I’m really not alone (more tears).
As the weekend goes on, and I cry ALL weekend, I make new friends and Grace has even told Ben to keep an eye on me. (Yes, I finally got to meet the wonderful Mama Rose and Papa Big Heart) As the weekend comes to a close, I gather my thoughts and come to the conclusion that this is a magical place. As the following years go by, I have come to love Camp David of the Ozarks and see them as an extended family. They have helped me get back into church. Helped me in making decisions, and this past summer even allowed me the privilege to help them by being their nurse for camp. The difference in the children from Monday when they get off the bus and Friday is something you have got to see for yourself.
I hope that everyone reading my story can help to support a camper this summer. What Ben, Grace and their staff do for these kids is God’s gift.”