Marco, Jacob, and Joshua passionately want to go to… Kansas! – and then Oklahoma! This is not a common aspiration for junior high boys anywhere, let alone in Wilmington. Furthermore, there are seven other boys and girls who want to go with them. What could account for this puzzling passion? To diagnose the cause of this curious affliction, I interviewed the boys at their after school program, Camp Harmony, an UrbanPromise junior high site lead by Salima Watson from… Kansas! Could this be a clue???
It turns out the outbreak of Midwest fever was first spotted in Arkansas three years ago. Each of these boys had taken the UrbanPromise spring break trip to Arkansas with Kristin Walker when they attended Camp Freedom, one of our four elementary after school programs. Kristin’s family is from Arkansas (hmmm, a pattern is forming). The tree boys were effusive in their praise of Arkansas. I was suspicious. Were they on the take from the Arkansas tourism bureau?
Cool experiences tumbled out of their memories – queasy stomachs on their first flight, the Pink Palace, kayaking, climbing Pinnacle Peak (not exactly a highlight, but definitely a vivid memory), Memphis, the Lorraine Motel where Dr. Kind was shot, the zoo, piloting a speed board, and on and on. I felt distinctly disappointed that I had been left out of such an amazing trip. Who knew? Arkansas was a land flowing with milk and honey! They boys had a special tone when they discussed the families they’d stayed with, Kristin’s family and friends. Host families keep costs down, but much more importantly they enrich lives – of the kids for sure, bus also of he hosts. There’s nothing like sharing a roof and a meal to get to know a place and its people.
“We played ping pong at night. Mr. and Mrs Walker were crazy and excited, just like Kristin! They made stuff fun for no reason. They came out and played whiffle ball with us. I never saw old people do that before.”
In the middle of my interview, Mrs. Marshall, Marc’s Mom, came in. She confirmed our fears of chronic Midwest fever: ” When Marco came back from his Spring Beak trip to LIttle Rock, he wanted to move to Arkansas right away!”
“Our children need a new vision, to be involved in something different. These trips open their eyes,” Mrs. Marshall added reflectively.
“I don’t want to live my life boring,” March declared, “If you live your life boring you don’t do anything with your life.”
Joshua chimed in, “If you’re bored you get into trouble.”
In addition to Marc’s trip (10 jr highers to KS and OK), six children will be going to Arkansas and 25 will be going to Boson. It’s a big investment, but keeping kids out of trouble with vision, joy and a life with purpose (not boring!) is a terrific return. They sustained involvement of these three boys is evidence.
Our interview needed unexpectedly serious. I told the boys I needed to reach out to our supporters (you!) and asked them to give money to enable them and their friends to take this trip – money that they (you!) could spend on their own family. “Why would you ask people to help you?” I concluded. They sensed the gravity of needing to have money to make this possible. Their countenances became ernest and in a low, thoughtful, hopeful voices they each answered:
“They might want to help me see different places.” Jacob
“I might not get another chance.” Marco
“If you help people get out, they might help you out during their lifetime.” Joshua
Joshua’s closing answer, innocent and full of wisdom, reminded me os Aesop’s fable of the lion and the mouse. How true, I thought. If you and I help these young people out now, someday, truly, they will help us out. Whether we ever see it or not, our Father in heaven will, and I’m convinced giving all these kids a great family trip is beautiful in His eyes.
Please take a look at the donation page and if you can give an extra gift to meet our special donor match that would be exciting. Marco, Jacob, and Joshua need $350 for a plane ride to the land of Oz (ok, Kansas), $145 will get the five kids a Boston city pass, and $1000 will sponsor four kids to see a bigger world and adopt a bigger family.
Cure the fever!