Summer camp offers respite, hope for foster kids

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. - Fifty kids from Kern County's foster care system are spending a week at Royal Family Kids Camp.

Laura Mrasak attended the camp every summer for five years.

"It was a really cool experience and I would look forward to coming every year," said Mrasak.

For her, it was an escape. Mrasak said she considered it a week to get away from abuse and the real life.

"My parents would abandon us. And abuse us. Would do drugs," said Mrasak.

She bounced from one foster home to another, feeling invisible.

"They're too busy and they really just want you to be there for the money and stuff," said Mrasak.

Then she went to Royal Family Kids Camp.

"Foster kids need a lot of advocates in their lives," said Kirstie Ruud, a camp co-director. "They go through things we cannot even imagine.  It's our goal to give them a week to just be kids. And they get to have fun and forget everything that's gone on in their past."

The camp is all run by volunteers and donations.

"All the curriculum, the games, the bible story lessons, it's all geared around foster children and giving them the tools to feel joy and hope in their life," said Ruud.

Hope is given for campers like 12-year-old Mickey, who lives with eight other kids at his foster home. On his first day of camp he said he didn't know anybody, until they got to the cabin and made friends right away.

Mickey also said he struggled with anger issues. But then, one day at camp he realized he needed to change.

"I have no idea, it just hit me," said Mickey. "It makes you feel like you can love yourself and love others."

Kids can attend camp until they are 12-years-old, but that hasn't stopped many of them from coming back.

Mrasak pays it forward by being a camp counselor. 

"I think it's good for them to have somebody that cares for them," said Mrasak.

Mickey plans to return next year as junior counselor, when he'll be able to tell the kids that 'it's going to be a fun week. You don't have to worry.'

Print this article Back to Top