(Burnet, Texas) - Buckner foster children and families left their worries at the gate when they arrived at Camp Buckner for a weekend retreat June 10-12.
“I think the opportunity to get away from the distractions of home, whether it’s TV or computers, and just to come out here and enjoy each other re-energizes you to keep doing what you’re doing,” said Buckner foster parent Bryant Richardson.
[caption id="attachment_1140" align="alignleft" width="250" caption="Daphne Whittaker from Lancaster was among the Dallas families that attended the weekend retreat. There were 170 people in attendance at the weekend retreat. "][/caption]
Camp Buckner hosts an annual weekend retreat for Buckner foster families to come and escape the busyness of life. Twenty-seven families from the Lubbock, Dallas and Beaumont area enjoyed the comfort of the Hill Country setting while participating in a wide array of recreational opportunities, like horseback riding, kayaking, archery and swimming.
“Our son missed his playoff game in the playoff tournament to come out here today and he’s the starting pitcher,” said Jeff Cox, foster parent from Arlington. “We really didn’t want to miss this weekend as we were excited and thankful to get the opportunity to come out.”
According to Henry Jackson, Buckner administrator for the Dallas area, the setting of the outdoors can be therapeutic and beneficial to some of these children with different backgrounds.
[caption id="attachment_1141" align="alignleft" width="250" caption="Foster families and children enjoyed cooling off in the swimming pool at Camp Buckner. Families enjoyed connecting with one another and being "re-energized," said foster parent Bryant Richardson."][/caption]
“Sometimes you have kids who are very challenging in the city and you bring them to a relaxing environment like this and they change and become totally different,” he said. “Unfortunately we all have to go back, but the gains and breakthroughs that can be made this weekend are immeasurable.”
During an evening devotional Saturday night, some parents shared their stories of how they got involved with foster care.
“We started with the idea of just fostering,” said Michael Turner, foster-to-adopt parent of Marcus and Robert. “I’m almost 60 now, so we thought we were too old to adopt, but these children get in your house and into your heart, as they’ve just been part of our family.”
“I opened up the phone book and pointed to an agency, and there was Buckner,” said Daphne Whittaker, foster parent of five years. “I truly believe that it was a Godsend because they are really good people to work with and they love the kids, as they try to make sure that they’re being taken care of.”
Chad Patterson, administrator at Camp Buckner, said he hopes all the campers leave with one word in mind.
[caption id="attachment_1142" align="alignleft" width="250" caption="During the weekend, campers were offered many recreational activities including archery, kayaking and horseback riding. "][/caption]
“Excellence. I want these people to experience the excellence in all we do,” he said. “So if that means having light bulbs that work and giving them towels when they need it, we’ll do whatever to make sure that they can get the most out of the environment and just really experience the beauty that is here.”
From the accommodations, courtesy and friendliness of the staff, to the specially cooked food, Camp Buckner shows that these children are valued.
“Children are our most important asset,” said David Garcia, Buckner case worker to the Dallas area. “So this is just one of many things we do to show that we appreciate our foster families by providing this type of experience for them. And the families keep coming, more and more in numbers.”
To learn more about Buckner Foster Care, visit www.beafamily.org. To host your next conference, camp or retreat at Camp Buckner, visit www.campbuckner.org.
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