about t.r.a.c. Tualatin
Last summer Kirk and I got the opportunity to volunteer as relief counselors at Teen Reach Adventure Camp (T.R.A.C.) Tualatin, a faith-based summer camp designed to show love, encouragement, and support to at-risk foster teens.
As relief counselors, we went for a couple hours each evening to give the full-time counselors a chance for their daily team meeting along with some personal time. We played games, like HORSE, with the kids. We waded in the creek, hung out and talked with them. We saw them letting down their guard and having fun. The counselors told us how some of the kids had arrived at camp closed and wary, but that through activities and the care of their counselors, they began to open-up and talk about their lives. For some of them, this could be one of just a few times in their lives that they felt truly safe and special.
On the way home Kirk said, “When I volunteered, I wanted to do something good, but I didn’t realize how much I would get out of the experience. You could see how starved the kids were for positive attention. But you could also see how they were thriving with just a few days of "normalcy" where they were just kids outside of the system, in a supportive environment free of drama or abuse. I was part of it for a few hours and left feeling inspired.”
WHAT IS T.R.A.C.?
T.R.A.C. is a faith-based camping experience designed to reach out to teens in the foster care system who may have suffered neglect, abandonment and/or abuse. T.R.A.C. was started 15 years ago by Tim and Serena Howell after having volunteered at Royal Family Kids Camps for years. Royal Family Kids Camp serves children in the foster care system ages 6-12 years old, at which point there were no further activities to support these graduating campers as they moved into a difficult time of social development in their lives… and so T.R.A.C. was born. In only 15 short years these camps have spread across the country, and even into Africa.
Elizabeth Guier began the journey to be camp director 4 years ago through a partnership with Neighborhood Church. T.R.A.C. Tualatin’s core leadership team will be hosting its third year of camps in July 2019. Each year they host 2 three-day, two-night, separate gender camps, typically on consecutive weekends. Last year they were able to host camp for 5 boys the first weekend, and 8 girls the second weekend.
In the future, they hope to expand to at least a dozen teens per camp. The cost of each teen to attend can range from $300 - $500 depending on location, supplies, and activities. The more money they fund-raise, the more activities they can offer to these teens.
This money also goes towards the background checks and training of the camp staff who are completely comprised of volunteers.
Each day the teens participate in challenge course activities designed to teach trust through team building exercises and are also given the opportunity to open up about their past in a safe & nurturing environment to help them process through some of the difficulties in their lives and realize that they are not alone. Other activities include swimming, arts & crafts, archery, and campfires.
T.R.A.C Tualatin’s vision is to add T.R.A.C. Life, which is an on-going mentoring program where fully vetted, trained adults can enter safe and trusting relationships with the teens on an ongoing basis.
Kirk and I were so impressed by our experience that we wrote a check. This just didn’t seem like enough.
Boy Scout Ridge on Mt Hood
Pacific Crest Trail
PUT YOUR BOOTS WHERE YOUR MOUTH IS...
We have been kicking around the idea of section hiking the Pacific Crest Trail. Hiking from Mexico to Canada takes most people about five months. We won't have that kind of time until we retire, but we are able to take five weeks.
One day we asked the question, what if we could hike a section of the PCT and promote this amazing cause at the same time?
Our longest hike to date was the three and a half days we spent hiking around Mt. Hood. This hike was just under 40 miles on the Timberline Trail. If we hike the Oregon section of the PCT it will take us four and a half to five weeks. That's five weeks of being hungry, tired, sweaty and smelly with throbbing feet and sore muscles.
You know the idiom, "Put your money where your mouth is," which essentially means that it’s easy to talk about something, but harder to do? We really believe in the value of T.RA.C. to change lives and bring hope to kids. So, we are going to put our boots where our mouth is and walk 455.2 miles. We are going to ask you to support us in a couple of ways.
First, we really appreciate your interest and encouragement. Second, come hike parts of the trail with us if you are into that.
But most important, please consider making a donation or sponsor us by the mile.