By Brittany Black
Burnet, TEXAS — By the time Cecilia Lopez was 16, she already had two sons. So going to camp was out of the question until now.
“Being here is stress free, it’s not reality,” said Lopez, now 20. “It’s nice to get away and have fun.”
In June, Lopez and her boys joined 135 other moms, ages 14-20, and their children at Camp Buckner.
For one week, moms and babies from Texas, Oklahoma, Georgia, Florida, Arkansas, Kansas and Louisiana got a break from the real world and experienced camp life in all its glory. The experience was part of YoungLives, a ministry of Young Life that caters to adolescent mothers and their children.
During the rest of the year, YoungLives gives teen moms a chance to belong to a community and have support from other moms and a mentor.
“YoungLives allows these girls to have a one-on-one woman mentor who teaches them about parenting, life skills, education and helps guide them spiritually,” said YoungLives Nationwide Director Lindsey Patchell. “It’s a place for teen moms to fit in; these girls are overlooked and fall through the cracks in one of the most vulnerable stages of life.”
But for this week, these girls got a chance to play games, conquer a ropes course, ride a horse, sing songs, participate in group competitions and learn about someone that loves them unconditionally.
While moms got a chance to be kids again, their little ones were placed in nurseries and were cared for by volunteers. Ninety volunteers gave up their time and money to love and care for the children.
Each volunteer childcare worker had their own reason for serving. Mary Idiaquez decided to volunteer because of her devotion to Young Life, and her love of children.
“I started going to Young Life in 1965, it holds a special place in my heart,” said Idiaquez. “Once I heard they were having a YoungLives camp in Texas, I wanted to help. It’s a great ministry opportunity.”
These moms have faced a lot of challenges for the sake of their babies, and being at Camp Buckner allowed them to escape to a relaxing place, said Chad Patterson, Camp Buckner administrator. "The girls were even pampered at spa day where volunteers helped give them manicures, pedicures, facials and massages," he said.
This was the first time a YoungLives camp was held in Texas. Young Life will also use Camp Buckner next summer and there are plans to continue their contract until summer 2012.
YoungLives began in 1996. There are currently 120 divisions and it is expanding to serve teen moms internationally as well as continuing its ministry in the U.S.
Camp Buckner, established in 1987, sits on 800 acres of land in Burnet, Texas. Camp Buckner serves as a retreat and conference center from August to May and a Christian camp retreat center from May to July.
To learn more about Camp Buckner, or to book Camp Buckner for your next camp or retreat, visit www.campbuckner.org.
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