MANDEVILLE, La. - There are almost 5,000 children in our state’s foster care system today. But for a lucky 35, one week this summer will be their chance to just be a kid at a free, overnight summer camp on the Northshore.
The outdoor campground, at a disclosed location, is quiet now. But in a week, the voices of carefree children will fill the area.
John Wondergem is looking forward to it.
Wondergem, with Royal Family Kids Camp, said, "Normally, these kids are being mom and dad to their little brothers and little sisters, they're taking care of those people in their lives and they've had to be the grownups. This is an opportunity for them to just be kids."
The camp is for children ages 7 to 11 in Louisiana's foster care system.
Royal Family Kids Camp is an organization that's run hundreds of camps like this across the country for years.
Wondergem found out about it while living in Chicago and got it started for the first time in Louisiana this summer.
"What we try to do is create a week of positive memories for kids that have no positive memories,” said Wondergem. “They come from abused and neglected backgrounds and we try to give them positive memories to give them a sense of hope and value."
The five-day, overnight experience will include an all-campers birthday party, a princess tea party and a boys adventure night.
But to make all of that happen, and keep it free for the children, a sponsor was needed.
Northwood Church out of Mandeville stepped in.
Staff pastor at Northwood Church, Matt Donely, said, "With this being an outreach to foster families, we just kind of felt like it fit in with the vision of James 1:27, which is to outreach to the widow and orphan."
It's a new experience for many of these kids and organizers hope with the community's help, it will become an experience many more children will get to enjoy in the future.
This year’s camp runs from June 16 to June 20.
The non-profit organization will be working throughout the year to raise money for next year, in hopes of holding a longer camp, for more kids.
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