A Foster Teenager’s Journey to Camp Rock

By Jay Watkins

In November of 2022, Camp Rock got a call for the placement of a teenager who had been living in a hotel for a few months. She entered foster care because she had attempted to commit suicide.

When the government investigated, they found so many pills laying around the home that they didn’t know which or how many the teen had taken to attempt suicide.

Later, it was discovered that she had been verbally abused by her mother and raped by a family member when she was just eleven.

As a result, some of her behaviors when entering foster care included poor hygiene, refusal to shower, inappropriate online relationships, outbursts of anger, compulsive lying and manipulation.

Around the same time, Camp Rock had approved a single mother who had felt God’s call to foster. She had wanted to foster children for a while, but her mother (who lived with her) was not open to the idea. The single mother prayed and released this dream to the Lord since her mother wasn’t comfortable with it. She knew He would work in His own time.

Shortly thereafter, her mother approached her with the idea of fostering—she had become open to it for the first time! The family was approved, and their first call was for this teenager.

Because of her behavioral issues, their new foster daughter was attending an alternative school in the area. Her behavior in school continued to cause problems. She struggled academically, performed at an elementary level and found it hard to make friends at school because she didn’t know how to socialize. On top of this, due to complications with the system, she was unable to attend therapy.

Her behavior quickly became too much for her new foster mother and grandmother, and they eventually approached Camp Rock staff about disrupting the placement.

Send Relief’s South Region Director Jay Watkins suggested horse therapy at Camp Rock to address some of the problems this family was facing.

At the first session, the teenager was closed off. She just stood in the arena, unwilling to come out of her shell.

But with time, she bonded deeply with one of the horses.

In just two months of attending horse therapy, she started to participate in horse therapy exercises and opened up to the trainers about her story. Today, she is interested in becoming a horse trainer.

The valuable information she has learned about how animals copy emotions, respond to honesty and follow strong leaders has taught her about humanity as well, and she is already implementing this knowledge in her own life.

At the same time, she resumed therapy and improved her grades. Her behavior at school has improved to the point that they are transferring one of her classes on a trial basis over to the public school. If she does well in this class and continues to show improved behavior, they will slowly continue to transfer her over from the alternative school.

She has also started attending Camp Rock and local churches’ mentoring camps, led by local church partners. She has been connecting with peers who have similar struggles as her and is being exposed to the gospel at every camp, where she’s been asking spiritually deep questions. Her relationship with her foster mother has also improved, and there is no longer a threat of placement disruption. She has even started calling her foster mother “mom” and her foster grandmother “grandma.” She has started to open to them about her past in a way she had not done before, and her foster mother has had many conversations with her about character, behavior and future plans.

The results of these conversations came to fruition on March 30th, when the teenager came to her foster mother crying. They had a conversation about God, sin and forgiveness, and she professed faith in Christ that night.

She’s very excited about her new life as a Christian and it’s the first thing that she tells people at Camp Rock when she sees them for the first time.

She still has a long way to go, but now she is moving forward with new hope. For the first time, she has been shown a different path for her future and has been given stability in her life through Camp Rock.

Her life has been changed by God.

Published May 3, 2023