Blind woman steps up to lead Royal Family Kids Camp
Wendy Townsend has been a volunteer with Royal Family Kids Camp for 15 years and she will continue with the program this summer, but in a new capacity. Townsend, who is legally blind, is the new director of the camp, a one-week residential summer camp for abused, abandoned and neglected children in the Henry County area.
When the previous director had to step down, Townsend stepped up and volunteered.
“I feel I can do this with my family support,” Townsend said. “This camp must continue as a ministry to these kids. I have seen lives change through this camp and I want that to continue.”
“I don’t know if I am qualified, I can’t read and I use a cane, but my husband Michael and our four daughters will be helping me,” Townsend said, and added, “There is still a need for volunteers for this year’s camp.”
Townsend said she knows the camp can’t make the difference for every child who has been abused, neglected, or abandoned, and added, “One of the guys who went through this camp in his youth now comes back to help as a counselor because it changed his life and he hopes to help change the lives of others.”
Royal Family Kids Camp is for children ages 6-11, and was established in 2003 in Henry County. The camp is part of a faith based network of close to 200 camps across the country whose mission is to provide a week of positive memories that will help change the direction of the young people’s lives.
A large number of the children who attend camp have been in the foster system, and Henry County has the largest number of children referred to the Department of Children and Family Services…The program serves the ones who aren’t always sure where they are going to stay each night, the ones who sit alone at the lunch table, the ones picked last for gym class or shoved away or forgotten.
Royal Family gives boys and girls a full week of camp free of charge, Monday through Friday.
RFKC works closely with Henry County Social Services to ensure that the children most in need will be the ones who go to camp.
Children who attend camp have many special needs and require continual experienced supervision. In order to provide this level of attention, each camper shares their counselor with only one other camper. This camper to counselor ratio (2:1) is unique to
RFKC. The RFKC environment is an excellent way to make a lasting impression on the children. The camp facilities are ideally suited to the many special needs of this type of event.
The campers go fishing, paddle boating, rock climbing, swimming, play games and each day they have a skit presented based on a Bible story as well as a message about God loving them. On the Thursday of camp week, the campers get a 7 a.m. wakeup call with ‘Happy Birthday’ followed by a day full of special events which end up with a special birthday dinner, complete with cake and ice cream and a carnival and each child receives a birthday present…For some it may be the first birthday present they have ever received.
Each child leaves camp with a Bible to take home, with a special quilt and a colorful pillowcase filled with their craft projects. They also receive a photo album with pictures of themselves at camp, so the positive memories can be recalled, and each camper is given a "Playaway” with music from camp week.
THE NEEDS FOR CAMP TO HAPPEN:
There was no RFKC in 2020 due to the pandemic and this year’s camp, at the end of July, will be shortened to four days due to lack of funds and volunteers.
Wendy Townsend said, “We are missing volunteers this year and are in need of at least 10 more people to help us.”
She said, “We also are in need of a ‘grandma and grandpa’ and an ‘aunt and uncle’ to love on the kids and spend time with them.”
There is also a financial need to help make the camp a success and anyone who would like to help with a contribution should mail a check, made payable to Royal Family Kids Camp, to New Life Fellowship Church, 807 West Elk St., Geneseo, IL 61254.