A Camper's Testimony
By Angela Byrd
What Camp Alandale Means to Me
Camp Alandale has done so much for me over the years. It has not only been a place to learn and grow in the Lord, but it has been a place of retreat. Many times I have called when feeling a little down and have been lifted in the Lord. They have been my spiritual family and good friends.
Throughout most of my childhood, I was sexually abused by my father. My emotions were very mixed because of what went on and I didn't know how to feel. I was hurt because of what he did and angry for what he had taken away from me emotionally. I was scared of what would happen if I told anyone. My mom came to me and asked me about what had happened. She said she always suspected that something was wrong, but she couldn't prove it. This, as a result, created a friendship between us. My father went to jail for three years for the sexual abuse. My mother was unable to care for us due to her health. My sister, brothers, and I were split up and put into different foster homes. During this time, my parents got divorced. My sister, who was in the same foster home as me, was having problems in this home and left after two years. I continued to live in this foster home for almost eight years.
When I First Came to Camp
I was 14 years old when I first came to Camp Alandale. I was very shy and withdrawn. I didn't talk too much to anyone except my counselor. The games were fun. I really enjoyed the singing and Bible stories. Many of the songs Karen sang had a lot to do with forgiving, learning to love again, and giving your pains of anger and hurting to the Lord. I accepted the Lord the first time I went to camp. I remember my counselor had to leave toward the end of camp for some reason, so I had Karen as my counselor the rest of the week. She has so much love and compassion for all the children who go up there. Over the years I learned to forgive my father for the things he had done. I can talk to my father as a friend now.
Becoming a Junior Counselor
At 17 years old I became a junior counselor. The junior counselors learn a lot about being a servant. We helped get meals ready for the campers to cook at their tables. We also were on a team. We helped encourage the campers to play the games or sing along with the counselors. We had our own Bible study with a counselor. They taught me how to share my testimony using the important details of my life was before I knew the Lord and how my life has changed since then.
What God Has Done in My Life
At 19 years old I was able to move in with my father and family. He had remarried and had two more children. Soon after I had moved in, my dad accepted the Lord. While I lived with my father, I met a wonderful man and married him. Karen was more protective of me than my own parents. She wanted to know everything about him, especially concerning where his life was with the Lord. Now, we have a little girl whom we named after Karen. My husband and I became counselors the same year we were married. We both have been so blessed to see the campers open up a little or a lot about their problems. Many of them end up accepting the Lord at camp. Almost every week the campers leave camp crying because they have been so loved and don't want to leave. For several years now, my husband and I have had the opportunity to send a special letter from the camp to each child on their birthday. I praise God for allowing this special privilege. They get so excited when they know that they're remembered by someone, which is a great blessing in itself. I can't tell you how many times just hearing Karen or Robin's voice has brought me out of some low times in my life. I thank and praise God for these two people who have been my spiritual parents over the years. I want to cry sometimes when I think of how much they love me. I praise God for what Camp Alandale means to me and has done in my life.