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Remember the last time you stayed at someone’s house as a guest? Every interaction in an unfamiliar home feels like an intrusion. Now, imagine that you stayed there after losing your family, all of your friends, and everyone else you know. Imagine coming as a guest into someone’s home with none of your belongings — no extra underwear, no toiletries, none of the things that you’d pack on a trip. Imagine how long it would take for you to truly feel at home in this new environment.

Helping foster children feel loved and accepted is very important. It takes time to adjust to a new environment and it’s our job to help these children feel accepted. We took the children at GHH on a weekend retreat to the keys. As you undoubtedly know, children learn a thousand times more by actions than they do by words. This trip was designed for them to feel valued and not ignored. Going to Islamorada not only provided new perspectives and learning opportunities, but also deep memories and irreplaceable bonds that have insurmountable lifelong effects. The power of outdoors is indescribable. For many children, it is a strong reality that they will not have these formative outdoor experiences because they do not have the parents to provide them. Yet it’s so important for youth to experience life outside of their normal environment in order to learn more about the world outside of their typical surroundings. On our retreat, the kids were able to try things that they have never experienced before, from relaxing on hammocks to building castles and water tunnels at the beach. We went paddle boarding and kayaking, and did a little snorkeling too. On an adventure, you typically try new things and learn things about yourself that you might not have known before. One of our kids learned how to ride a bike and another mastered the patience of fishing. They caught a shark, snappers, and several other fish from the ocean. They even saw a stingray for the first time. One of our boys described his experience as “magical” and the others expressed that it was the best weekend of their lives and they are all excited to go on another adventure. Nic, one of our supporters, took one of the children on a treasure hunt on an island where they found a cool shell and saw “a ridiculous-sized shedded snake skin” – their words. The children’s excitement and invaluable learning experiences made the trip just as fulfilling for us as it was for them. We closed out the weekend with a night of star-gazing and s’mores, and dreamt of doing more great things together.

Our trip to Islamorada  was very successful and proved to be therapeutic to all the children. We are so thankful to Lisa Gorman and Sally Ashby who allowed us to stay at their beach house for free, to Nic Cheshire who provided food for the entire weekend and to Angela Prugh who assisted in chaperoning the children. We could not do anything without the amazing support of our Friends of Genesis crew!

Do you have a passion for helping kids in need? Please join us as we make new memories and discover new adventures in our quest to continue Building Genesis.