“I never want to underestimate my childrens’ ability to serve.” – Melissa Puente
I have a friend who has amazing amounts of energy and organizational skills. She wanted to teach her kids about service and give them more of an opportunity to serve, so she did the obvious thing and put together a week long camp for the entire community (the camp ran from 9:00 to 3:30 with an option of extended care until 6 pm.) In the beginning she wanted to run it as a co-op with each Mom/Dad contributing and running a different portion of the camp. However, a lot of parents work and couldn’t contribute, but still wanted their children to have this amazing experience, so she changed her plan, hired a college aged kid to run the activities, got some older girls to be group leaders and charged the kids whose parents couldn’t contribute to come. She used the money to cover the cost of the counselor, food, and supplies, and donated the rest. So I did the obvious thing, and after our family camping trip, I headed up to crash her camp for a couple of days.
Max was very excited about wearing his name tag…They made blocks for a school in Guatemala, and wrote the students letters. The organization that had built the schools and was taking the blocks down told them to emphasize what they wanted to be when they grew up, to give the Guatemalan students a broader view of life. They made a quilt for a child with cancer, and wrote “kindness notes” to put in a binder. Kindness notes were anything that they had done that was kind that day. Role playing and discussions also helped them learn more about each theme. My favorite part was the homeless shelter. It is a shelter just for Moms and their children, the moms were either at school or work so only the kids were around. The families are allowed to stay in the center (each has their own studio apartment) for up to a year. Classes on cooking, budgeting and other life skills are required of the residents. Chica warmed right up and was fast friends with this dimpled little charmer. Josh was a little slower. He is more quite, but I could tell he was trying to find a way to connect. He played basketball and then went in and helped set up all the lunch stuff. Max just thought there was a bunch of cool toys. I loved talking to the kids. Kids are sweet, they are innocent, with so much potential. Last, we served and ate lunch with them. Max was very concerned about something at this point. And this is what we did during free time.Melissa’s boys were so sweet to Max. She has two sets of twins, all of whom are darling. Max however, could not keep them straight. He kept asking me, “Where’s my friend? no my other friend? no my other friend.”
I’m so grateful to Melissa and her acts of service. Not just to the organizations that benefited from her camp, but to all of us who got to attend.