“How old are you?”, “Are you in college?”, “Do you drive a car?”, “Do you have a Tik Tok?”, “Can we play with your hair?” All these questions flowed as I introduced myself and took my first steps into my Camp Hope classroom. I’ve always been drawn to minister to middle school girls but being in a class of girls from ages 9-14 while being introduced to the ministry model of trauma-informed care was a completely new experience for me. Throughout the next few weeks of camp, I remembered what it was like to be a middle school girl. I remembered the insecurity, the desire for acceptance, and the need to be heard. I made it my goal to love those girls like Jesus does, to show them that they are loved and that their circumstances do not diminish their value. I made it a point to be 100% myself in hopes that one day they would be able to remember that one intern at Hope Place who wasn’t consumed with what others thought about her. I am so grateful for the work that God did here this summer. In just a few weeks, I saw students think about their words and actions first. I saw students treat others the way they want to be treated. I saw students face anxiety and depression head on. If God can bring this much growth in just a few weeks, imagine what he can do in many more months. My prayer is that these girls would never faint from asking many questions but instead continue to ask about God and his work in their lives. I am grateful for the ministry and impact of Hope Place because lives are being transformed.
Imagine the most beautiful summer day – a perfect breeze, not too hot, not too cold and just enough sunshine. Nothing was going to stop the students from having a great few days at Horse Camp. Or so I thought. Two students, who I had developed a friendship with over the course of Camp Hope, were terrified to swim or jump off the dock into the pond. They spent most of their time on the sidelines or on a paddle board where they wouldn’t get too wet. I had tried to convince them the water wasn’t too deep and that it was safe to jump in. I would do goofy jumps or have other students make a big splash to convince them it was safe AND fun, but nothing. At least for the first day. I put in the same effort on day two – I was determined to get them to face a fear! As I swam over closer to the dock to check on some students, one of the previously fearful students screamed, “Watch, Miss Morgan” and she began to jump off the dock with little hesitation for the rest of the time in the pool. I was thrilled! A little while later, as I was sitting on my towel in the grass, the second previously fearful student ran up to me and asked if I would go jump off the dock with her. Of course I said yes! As we stepped onto the wobbly dock, I noticed some hesitation began to set in again. She looked at me and said, “I need you to distract me. I’m scared and I don’t think I can do this.” As I began to make silly faces, some other campers came next to her and behind her, supporting and encouraging her to take the leap! Finally, she jumped in! I was overjoyed! In one day, two students had faced a fear they previously refused to even consider. As I was driving home that day, I thought about how I’m so similar to these students. How often does God nudge me to do something and I say no or seek out a distraction? How many times have I seen someone else in the community of faith living out something I’m too fearful to do, only to find out it’s a simple leap of faith? And how often has God provided a distraction from my fear and anxiety, while simultaneously providing a community to cheer me on and support me?
I think I was able to connect with students over the past few weeks of camp because I realized we aren’t that much different. Our struggles and paths may look very different, but there is still a God who desires to know and reach us, even from a wobbly dock. I have learned so much about God’s love and faithfulness, and I pray that my students have as well. There’s so many more stories I could tell of how trauma-informed care at Hope Place is transforming lives. I am so grateful for my experience as an intern and the opportunity to pour into girls from all different walks of life. Hope and transformation have only just begun.
by: Morgan Kast
Hope Collaborative, Hope Place Summer Intern 2020