When I was younger, when my dad became incarcerated and I was taken from my mom at age 8, I had to live in a foster home for a couple of years. I used to think I wasn't lovable, that I wasn't wanted or cared for, like I wasn't someone's child. I thought so much negative stuff about myself. Teachers called me a troubled kid. They put me in the back of the class.
No one really understood what I was going through. On family nights and for school events, other peoples' parents were there, but I didn't have anybody. A lot of people said I was going to wind up incarcerated like my dad and my uncles and my aunties. They told me I would be next.
The first time I went to the camp at Avary, it was something totally new for me - going to a place where I actually fit in, where people actually understood what I was going through.
Just knowing there were caring people there, and feeling understood, made me feel better. It's hard having a loved one incarcerated - I was my daddy's little girl, so when he got locked up, everything changed.
I was really quiet and scared when I first got to Avary, but one of the counselors made me laugh, made me feel welcome, and took me under her wing. Since then, I've always been laughing there! It took me about 3 years to actually be able to accept the fact that Avary people truly care for me and will always be there for me in my life. Once I did, I was the happiest person! Now, after 7 years of summer camps, monthly Adventure Days, and leadership retreats, I'm going to be a Cabin Intern this summer!
I am so looking forward to getting the kids to laugh and getting them excited for each day. My biggest goal is having them feel that we're here for them, that they don't have to be shy, nervous, or scared. Knowing that they have a second family and that they matter.
Avary has shown me how to choose a good path in life. I now feel like I'm a really good person, and I don't doubt myself as much. I'm working hard on my future career, taking higher classes, writing my resume, and going for may first part-time job. I'm continuing with my life and doing good, making my mom proud, my dad proud, and Camp Avary proud. Avary has had a huge impact on me.
So helping out Avary with your support means that you're helping kids like me, day by day, change their lives, pursue a good path, and become better people. Please make your contribution today - camp will be here soon!
We leave for camp in less than ONE MONTH. This year we have 25 brand new 8-10 year old participants that will step off the bus at Camp Avary for the very first time. From here, we will be with them until they are 18 years old and beyond. Stay on this journey with us. Help us put these kids on a truer path. Watch them grow into strong, resilient, and thriving young adults like Lizett, and help us make this year's camp the best one yet.