BASE!Camp: Why do we do it?

A reflection on World Children’s Day

In order to become a healthy adult and develop the self-control necessary for social integration, a child must be able to safely experience independence, competence, playfulness, and spontaneity. Freedom to express one’s emotions, while being loved, cared for, touched, and trusted.

There is no secret that young people in public care rarely have this opportunity. They often come from an environment where they were not well loved as children. For a child’s healthy emotional and neurological development, their basic physical and emotional needs (security, care, acceptance) must be considered and met. In some cases, children are orphaned without a family. Sometimes, their parents abandon them because they don’t want to raise them. However, in many other cases, they are unable to stay with their families due to a variety of circumstances.

In spite of their best efforts and intentions, parents who are themselves severely disadvantaged – often also children – are unable to raise their children. When children are placed in child protection care, either they will have a relentless and dedicated guardian who does everything for them, or they will not. The system alone cannot replace the safe, supportive presence of a loving family.

Throughout the years, we have heard all kinds of stories. One who is happy to be taken out of the family with his siblings, to be fed properly, to wear clean clothes, and not to be teased at school because he smells. Another sneaks back every chance she gets because she misses her dog and her own bed and, poverty or no poverty, she was loved by her mum at home. Every time the police come and get her, they take her back with a leash, but she does not cry anymore. Even the one whose mother committed suicide after the welfare car left, or the one who feels guilty that it’s all because of her, because she couldn’t be a “good child” despite trying so hard.

It is heartbreaking to hear these stories, each and every one of them, and they all have one thing in common: when children are not given the basic necessities to grow up healthy, their rights are violated severely.

It is a common misconception that we, as a society, have no responsibility in this matter, that it is someone else’s problem, someone else’s issue, someone else’s pain, and that it does not concern us. It is also a misconception that it is the state’s business and if the system isn’t working well, there’s nothing we can do about it. It does affect us, because they are our children’s peers. They will live, work, travel, pay taxes, raise children, and navigate the world together. As of now, there are 23,000 of them in Hungary, so their fate matters. It matters whether they receive the support that will enable them to live a ‘normal’ life, complete their education, find work, have a healthy relationship, and become contributing members of society.

Stopping undesirable behavior is not easy,” I read in Insoo Kim Berg’s book, and as cliché as it sounds, that’s what we expect our children to do when they are taught: stop the behavior that disrupts our world.

Our philosophy at BASE!Camp is to consciously confront this and assume that they have good reasons for their behavior. Our approach is to give them space to be who they are. We are present for them as an adult who does not judge, who believes every word they say and does not question their words. An adult who accepts, empathizes, and trusts them without telling them how to live. Creating an idealistic, almost sentimental world for them – we take extra care of this. When someone isn’t feeling well, we do our part to ensure they return home feeling refreshed, even if it’s just a little bit. We want them to feel better about themselves. As a result, they realize that they are talented, lovable, and can be positive about themselves. In spite of being a short period – just one week out of the year – it means a lot: something to remember when the clouds gather, something to recharge from, and something to look forward to.

Moreover, we are strongly motivated to help our children’s disadvantaged peers access those privileges that others gain by growing up in a family: the sense of belonging, connection and security that comes from it – alongside, of course, the many other things a family can provide. This is why we launched BASE!Camp.

The camp is specifically designed to support the therapeutic recreation and fulfillment of children and young people growing up in state care. It is achieved through positive experiences and the development of cooperation based on experiential education. We take responsibility in this way. How about you?

Krisztina Gyöngyösi

Trainer and professional leader of the Academy of experience

Help us to help more children get attention, a reassuring smile, and help us deliver positive sentences to them at BASE!Camp!

Thank you that with your support we can help children from difficult situations!

You can support BASE!Camp by clicking here.

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