It’s been five and a half years since my husband, Peter, and I founded The Station. And I've never written a blog on our web site, so I thought it was about time! As we approach the New Year, so many memories of past camps are flooding my heart and mind. The Station has hosted almost 70 camps and close to 1500 youth since our beginning. I have one of the best jobs in the world! I have the opportunity to meet people from all over the world and share hope with them. When a young person steps onto The Station camp property, our heart is to instill a hope for their futures. Many youth that attend camp at The Station come from life circumstances that are very difficult. We host many inner city/at risk youth throughout the year; some are in foster care, some are refugees, and some live in gang areas. And all of them need to know that they can accomplish great things in their lives. They need to know that they are not stuck, and that there are people who care and will cheer them on in life!
I decided to include a story from one of our campers in my blog. Her name is Felicia, and she was a camper for 2 years in a row, from an organization called HerShe Foster Girls from inner city Los Angeles. Felicia was not only a camper, she also applied for our internship program when she turned 18 and was on staff at The Station for a year. Here is her story; it will touch your heart:
Hey Station fans! My name is Felicia Prado. I’m writing this post because I want to talk about my amazing experience throughout the last 3 years at The Station. In February 2012, my path in life changed completely. It was the last night of the 2nd camp that I had attended at The Station, and the staff had asked if anyone needed prayer. At that moment I felt something stir inside of me and I got out of my seat to ask for prayer. The first person I saw when I looked up was Rachel, The Station Founder. I told her what was on my heart, and she started to pray. From that moment, something ignited in my heart. I felt glimpse of hope for my future!
For many years, I had been in and out of several foster care homes. I had faced abuse, drugs all around me, and I was exposed to gangs and violence. And then I experienced The Station. I felt loved, and when I had the opportunity to snowboard too, I gained such a sense of accomplishment.
When I turned 18 I decided to apply for the summer internship. I was accepted and spent 3 months at The Station in Mammoth. Slowly I began my relationship with God, and found my passion for people at the camp. My internship finished, and I decided to move back home, but unfortunately my life circumstances at home had not changed. Once again drugs were all around me (I didn’t agree with using them, but everyone around me was selling them or using), and a lack of safety overwhelmed me. I ended up homeless and lost, without parents. I contacted Rachel and shared with her what was happening in my life; she asked me if I wanted a healthy future. She said that The Station could help me gain life skills, job skills and give me an opportunity to learn to take care of myself.
I came back to The Station, and had a fresh start as a young adult. The camp family gave me the tools I needed to utilize in my life to thrive in my new community. I interned for two seasons and then was given the position as a full time-staff member. After being a full time staff for a while, I felt that it was time for me to move out into the “real world”. I left The Station as a transformed person that is now able to thrive by myself. I learned so many things while working at The Station, such as, office tasks, customer service skills, life skills, etc.
Most importantly, I learned how to open myself up to people, so that I can impact people’s lives by interacting with them with love, compassion, and honor. I can make a difference too! I’m sharing my story in hopes that people read this and get inspired to make a decision to change their lives, and have hope for their future.
Felicia’s story has impacted my life, and I long to see more young people receive hope for their future. She is more than a survivor; she is a champion. We have had the privilege of taking part in several stories similar to Felicia’s since we began The Station. And every time I see a young person gain hope to live a full and healthy life, I know that Pete and I made the right decision in founding The Station. This adventure of starting a camp has not been an easy one! There had been many days that we thought we would have to close the doors; many hours, many policies, lack of funds, and many meetings can be quite discouraging. But stories like Felicia’s keep us moving forward. I long to see thousands of youth know there is ALWAYS hope!
This new year The Station will be launching a young women’s mentoring home, so that more young women with similar circumstances like Felicia will have the opportunity to gain life skills, healing, job skills and more. The Station will also be hosting several inner city/at risk youth camps this year. And we are looking for partners who are willing to pour into the lives of youth, both financially and with time volunteering at our camps or in the mentoring home.
Please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to partner with Pete and I in seeing the lives of youth forever changed, never the same!
This is my first blog, and I’ve filled up the page! Thank you for reading!
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year,
The Station Founder