He’s a good kid, really. He still loves cuddling up to his mom to watch Phineas and Ferb and he’s not embarrassed to be caught hugging his dad. He takes his dishes to the sink after dinner, gets good grades, and usually remembers to say please and thank you. Yep, if I do say so myself, he really is a good kid.
The last few months have been tough, however. I’ve learned he can go from sweet to surly in 0.13 seconds. He has perfected the art of eye rolling. Sometimes I think he would rather choke on his own tongue than say a kind word to his brother and sister. My friends who have kids older than mine nod their heads and say with empathy, “Sounds like you have a tweenager in the house.”
Really? Ten is tween-aged? I thought I had more time! I was not at all prepared for this stage! So, I’ve cried and cajoled, prayed and punished, looked up “surly, eye-rolling, back talker” in all of my parenting books….All to little avail. But last week I saw the first real glimmer of hope I’ve seen in a very long time.
Since this is the first summer in four years that we aren’t moving, I’ve arranged several camps for the kids. Last week they went to C3 Day Camp. I’d never heard of it, but a friend mentioned it to me and so I did a little research online and registered the kids to go. C3 is sponsored by the WinShape Foundation, which was started by Truett Cathy, the founder of Chick-Fil-A. Everything I’ve known that was associated with the Cathy family has been done with excellence, including and especially the Chick-Fil-A IceDream cone, so I felt like this would be a good camp. I was impressed by all the different activities the kids could choose: archery, basketball, drama, digital photography, and wacky science, to name a few.
Every day all three kids came home excited to talk about what had happened at camp. I was glad they were having a good time, but I also noticed a real change in my tweenager.
When my answer was “no” to something he wanted to do, his response was, “Yes, ma’am” and he didn’t ask again. He looked for ways to help around the house. Instead of arguing and calls for mom to referee, I heard laughter coming from the living room each evening. I knew they were spending some time at camp each day learning how to live life the way Jesus did, but good grief, what were they saying that could cause such a noticeable transformation at my house, and most specifically from my tweenager?
Friday was Family Fun Day at camp. Parents were invited to see what the kids had been doing at camp and then we were treated to lunch from Chick-Fil-A. As I followed the kids through the different activities they’d been involved with each day, I was impressed with the way the camp was organized and what the kids were learning, but I also saw what was probably a big factor in my son’s attitude adjustment.
The camp is staffed by college students from across the country and as I watched them interact with the kids and the parents and with each other, I couldn’t help but be impressed. They asked for and received respect from the kids, and in turn, they respected the kids and made each one feel important. I especially watched the college guys as they interacted with my son. These guys weren’t just passing time at their summer jobs, waiting for their next paychecks, they were actively and enthusiastically investing their lives into my son’s and into the other campers entrusted to their care. I stood behind one of the guys who was talking to a camper as we stood in line to get our Chick-Fil-A sandwiches. This young college man was crouched down to the camper’s level so he could look him in the eyes. He wasn’t speaking in that condescending manner that we grown-ups often use when we’re talking to kids. In fact, he wasn’t doing as much talking as he was listening….really listening. Every now and then the staffer would ask a thoughtful question that would give the camper an opportunity to tell him more. I couldn’t help but look at him and pray that my boys would continue to grow into Godly young men like the ones I’d met that day.
My son is fast approaching an age where what his peers say will begin holding more and more weight with him and what grown-ups say may seem less important. Last week, that group of college guys who represent his idea of “cool dudes,” spent time with him and modeled what Godly young men look like. They had fun, played hard, laughed, yelled, and sweated together. But those guys also took time to be Jesus with skin on in front of a bunch of kids who are learning what it means to walk the walk and not just talk the talk.
I don’t know if one of the C3 teams is doing a camp near you, but if they are and you have school-aged kids, I highly recommend that you take a look. This was our first C3 experience, but we’re already planning to sign up to go again next year. Also, I was interested to learn about the WinShape Foundation and the different programs they have for everyone in the family. No one from WinShape or C3 asked me to write this post. They don’t know me. In fact, I stole that picture from a Chick-fil-A restaurant’s website. I was going to say that I’m not affiliated in anyway with the Cathy family or Chick-Fil-A, but as many chicken nuggets and IceDream cones as my family has consumed, I’m not sure if that statement would be entirely truthful. It’s just that whenever I find a good thing, I like to share it. Unless we’re talking about my waffle fries, in which case you should just order your own.
Thank you WinShape Camps, Chick-Fil-A, Cathy family, and especially the C3 Red Team. C3 Camp Staff, this mom wishes she could hug each one of your necks, cook you all supper, do your laundry, and send you off to your next camp with a care package of homemade goodies. Since I can’t, I hope you’ll accept my prayers that God will bless you and reward you greatly for giving of yourselves and making a difference in the lives of my kids.
I didn’t forget about the e-book contest. Stefanie? You’re the winner! In the morning, I’ll email you with instructions on how to claim your prize. Congratulations!