Royal Family Kids Camp Is a Royal Success



Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.”

This year’s seventh annual camp was a huge success that transformed volunteers and campers alike.   Royal Family Kids Camp (RFKC) is a Willow Creek ministry partner directed by Barton and Karen Francour.  The Francours, after raising four children of their own, recognized a need and decided to foster an additional 16 children over the course of thirteen years.  After experiencing a powerful week of wilderness camping at Camp Paradise (Willow Creek’s camp in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula), and knowing the need to support children in the foster care system, Bart and Karen joined forces with RFKC to provide those children with a meaningful camp experience.

RFKC is a national organization that helps bring Christ-centered joy and healing to children who have been physically, emotionally, and mentally neglected.  The statistical evidence of children who live in abusive homes and end up as adults who face a life-long battle of low self-esteem, hopelessness, homelessness, anger, addictions, and criminal behavior is staggering.   RFKC helps to spare these at-risk children by providing hurting kids a safe place to discover they are precious treasures in God’s sight and are welcomed into God’s family.

June marks the seventh year of providing local foster kids from Cook and Lake Counties the gift of an adventure-filled week of God’s love, joy, healing, and family-style structure.  This year, 92 campers, ages seven to twelve years, along with approximately 80 volunteers completed camp.  Dozens of Willow Creek members made the week of camp possible by volunteering as leaders.  They were trained to be the campers’ aunts, uncles, and grandparents.  When campers arrived at the Lake Geneva camp on Monday they were greeted with high-fives, hugs, and personalized signs, and were plugged into their family units.RFKCFinalGroupPhoto

Royal Plan
The campers took a guided walk through Jeremiah 29:11.   The camp was “under construction” as God’s blueprints for their lives were revealed over the course of five days.  Each day campers learned how to build a good spiritual foundation for their lives by making wise choices.  Choices like prayer, trusting God, and following the Bible were all part of God’s blueprint for each camper. Building a firm foundation in Christ was the goal.

The volunteer’s blueprint was to build up each camper, affirming them and helping restore their self-esteem.  Leaders are charged with providing the children with a supportive, emotional and physically safe environment.  The low camper-to-counselor ratio helps provide the foster children with a ready ears and open hearts at all times.

Lessons of God’s love were also coupled with fun! A typical day at camp is jam packed with excitement, adventure, and activity. Every day is entirely structured and starts around 7 a. m.  with calisthenics and the breakfast club.  Morning and afternoon chapel time is integrated into the day as well as campfires, crafts, and woodworking.  Campers go boating, swimming, and experience family style dinners and tea parties decked with fine china and tablecloths.  Brave campers even partake in an early morning polar bear swim.  On Wednesday, every camper’s birthday is celebrated.  The camp has a huge birthday party extravaganza and each child receives an age and gender appropriate birthday box with special gifts just for them inside.DSC_4667
Royal Gifts
The ultimate goal of RFKC is that each camper would discover their worth in Christ.  At camp they are taught they belong and are invited to join God’s Royal Family as His children.  Volunteers instill and plant seeds of salvation, hope, and love into the hearts of these campers.  They work to reinforce the fact that the campers are cherished children of God.

To continue the camp experience and remind campers of all they learn at camp, campers are given gifts and tools to refresh them when things get tough at home—gifts like a play-away with all the music from camp, a photo memory book, and a Bible.  At the end of the week, one child shared that “Monday was their favorite day at camp…because I wait all year to come here.”

Campers are encouraged to return to camp each year until they age out of the program.  Many campers return years later, ready to volunteer with younger children who need attention, love, and support from someone who intimately understands their situation.

Because of the Francours and dozens of other Willow Creek volunteers who have heeded the calling to make camp their summer mission, many children have been able to feel the healing and lasting power of God’s love year after year.

For more information about Royal Family Kids Camp and how you can volunteer in the future, email Camp Directors Bart and Karen Francour.

Category : Local Outreach


This summer camp, serving nearly 100 formerly abused, neglected and abandoned children ages 7-11, is extraordinary. The entire operation is run by volunteers. More than 100 adults were involved this year

Willow Creek members and others who think they might want to become involved can contact the camp directors, Bart and Karen Francour, at:

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