Who’s at risk?

By John Pierce

Picking up my daughter from a week of volunteerism at a camp for at-risk children meant that the leisurely Saturday drive home would be filled with enthusiastic reports of newfound friends and continuous efforts at taming a cabin full of squealing girls.

The pretty teen I taught to catch snakes, frogs and other creatures said she was called the “man of the house” for her willingness to deal with the various bugs that came indoors with the kids. There is just something about camp that every young person should experience — as often as possible.

I heard stories about kids who live the rest of the year in very challenging situations. Camp was a not only a unique environment for many of them but a rare opportunity to have focused attention on their potential for good.

Two of the young girls, my daughter noted, didn’t really come from “at-risk” situations. She meant that they seemed to have a more financially secure home life.

However, I noted that there are risks other than the scarcity of resources. In fact, an overly-enhanced sense of self-reliance and self-importance arising from abundance without appreciation may be the riskiest way for a child to be reared.

The resulting, swarming culture of self-focused adults puts everyone at risk.

There is much to teach children about life: faith, hope, love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness and self-control. And that the world doesn’t revolve around any one of us.

Oh, and how to get a granddaddy long-legs spider out of the cabin without screaming your head off.

John Pierce

About John Pierce

John D. Pierce has been executive editor of Baptists Today since 2000. Previously he served as managing editor of The Christian Index and as a Baptist campus minister at Georgia Tech, Southern Polytechnic and Kennesaw State. A native of Ringgold, Ga., he is a graduate of Berry College (B.A.), Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary (M.Div.), and Columbia Theological Seminary (D.Min.). He speaks frequently in churches, consults with congregations concerning communications and holds interim pastorates. He and his family are members of Highland Hills Baptist Church in Macon.

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