“I will remember this trip for the rest of my life; thank you for taking me camping Mr. Plante.” I too will remember this for the rest of my life, as an eight year old boy stood in front of me gazing into my eyes, his grin seemed to stretch from ear to ear and his words were tugging at my heart. He was standing on a lake shore and had caught his first fish. These are memories that are created every summer for children who go on camping trips at Kurn Hattin. I cannot help but to be humbled knowing I am part of a young person’s fond memories to be reflected upon and talked about in the future and included in a building of trust between a child and an adult. I have a dream job, as long as God is willing, teaching children to explore new experiences in the outdoors. The children find a deeper meaning in the world around them, which may have been in the past scary or unpleasant, but now is full of amazement, joy, and intrigue. This is where they can safely explore and enjoy the camping experience. For some it is a bold first time, and for some it is like visiting an old friend, but for all it is rewarding.
The summer program at Kurn Hattin Homes offers children a chance to enjoy their childhood. Any given day you can visit and watch children build bonds with the staff and volunteers as well as their peers. Through games, hikes, swimming, arts and crafts, and other summer adventures, children are encouraged to choose healthy activities to learn how to have fun without turning to unhealthy outlets. The outdoor program is an extension to the summer program which includes camps varying from hiking, fishing, mountain biking and beach fun. The children are taught how to put up and take down tents correctly, how to prepare and cook food in a camp setting, how to be safe around the campsite and the water, and how to get the most out of their camping experience. The by-product of all of this is that the staff and volunteers also get the rewards of a lifetime, being part of this will change us for the better every trip, child by child.
We have been blessed to have volunteers willing to sacrifice their time and money to come on these camping trips (3 days out) to give of their talents and skills. These big-hearted people who ask nothing in return are part of a bigger picture, helping children to see adults giving of themselves and resources only because they care. Deputy Director, Tom Fahner, often jokes with me about paying me to go fishing, and honestly the great pleasure I get spending time organizing these camps and then spending time with these children is more than I can explain. I am truly rich with memories of laughter around the campfire, the look of excitement on a child’s face catching a fish (or a frog), the contented smile as we tube down a river, or deeper conversations about what’s on a child’s mind and heart. Sometimes the best therapy is done far from an office, like in a canoe or kayak.
~ Clint Plante,
Outdoor Program Coordinator and Houseparent