I’m sitting in the San Jose airport appreciating the fact that San Jose is in the heart of Silicon Valley — there are electrical and USB plug-ins everywhere. Even on the bottom of my Starbucks cup.
The San Jose airport is about thirty minutes from Felton, where Opportunity Camp is located. But it might as well be across the country. The people coming and going, parked at their laptops, are in their own world. I imagine many of these folks are in the tech industry, or want to be. Anywhere in Silicon Valley you might be ten feet away from a millionaire (meaning … don’t judge people by their sandals).
Felton sits between San Jose and Santa Cruz on Highway 17. For many of the kids just now waking up at Opportunity Camp, Felton sits between the life they have in foster or group homes and the life they want to have. It lasts long enough — one week — to give them a good sampling of what is possible.
For those of us who trek in from across the country each year, we do so because we believe in the power of love (insert 1980’s power ballad here). I am humbled each year (15 now) by the staff that I encounter, from first-timers to those who have been coming for over thirty years. From the moment they arrive to the moment they leave, it’s all about the kids. The easy kids, the hard kids, all kids.
After our evening program last night, one twelve-year old boy asked if he could give me a hug. As we stood there, he looked up at me and said, “I really want to cry right now.” “Me, too,” I added.
Back home he may not be allowed to be a twelve-year old boy. At Opportunity Camp, he is. For one week, he can be a little boy who chases lizards and plays Connect Four and sings silly camp songs. And he learns about the love of God. It’s worth every dime.
I’m looking forward to sleeping in my own bed, showering with hot water, and not having to put on bug spray at night. I can’t wait to give my three girls a big hug! Returning from Opportunity Camp brings my own blessings into focus. Blessings that I often take for granted or assume will always be there. I forget that I not only have one great week at camp, but the other fifty-one are pretty good, too.
That’s my prayer for these kids. May the one week of Opportunity Camp spill over in ever-increasing measure into the rest of their year.
To learn more about Opportunity Camp, visit www.opportunitycamp.org.