Finding a mentor at summer camp

“Cosmin is the father I always wanted and never had. I love knowing he is there when I need him.” - 13-year-old Romanian summer camp participant, Denis

In Eastern Europe, many children are growing up in poverty and also living with the reality of absent parents. A lack of adequately-paid work drives many fathers and mothers to take on seasonal work abroad, to provide for their families. Children grow up missing out on the nurturing and protection they need, and their education is often negatively affected as well.

Denis (13) lives in Romania, where over 90,000 children have parents who are working abroad. Denis’s father died when he was a little boy – and while he now has a stepfather, both his stepfather and his mother often must work abroad to make ends meet. When his stepfather is home, there is a lot of conflict between him and Denis’s mother.

Help give a child a safe place to play this summer

For children like Denis, home doesn’t always feel safe. There’s poverty, strife, and upheaval when one or both parents go abroad. But Denis has been enrolled in Mission Without Borders’ child sponsorship program, and taken under the wing of Cosmin, a MWB volunteer, along with Cosmin’s family. Cosmin and his parents own a farm and Denis is often found there, feeding chickens, caring for the calves, driving the cart. Cosmin has become a father figure to Denis, and Cosmin’s father, a grandfather.

Denis and friends enjoy some time letting loose
and play during summer camp in Romania.

Last summer – two weeks before he turned 13 – Denis had the chance to attend a MWB summer camp. And what a gift it was for Denis! Playing football on an actual football field; eating sweets several times a day; jumping on the trampoline, attempting to touch the sky; laughing so hard his belly hurt; painting T-shirts or Bible pictures and banners; drawing; zip lining; singing his heart out,  and learning about the One who made it all possible.

Happily for Denis, Cosmin was his group leader at summer camp, and Denis loved having extra time with him.

Volunteer camp leader Cosmin and Denis reading the Bible together

Back in Danes when summer camp was over, Cosmin continues to help Denis develop his self-confidence by entrusting him with chores and tasks around the farm. Their home is a safe space where Denis knows he is loved and accepted and can share whatever is on his mind.

Cosmin said, “While my family is small, our door is always open and there is always room at our table for one more child needing material, emotional or spiritual nurture. We are here for Denis, investing in his life now and for the future, for as long as he needs us.”

Denis already knows what he’d love to do with his life. “I want to be like Cosmin when I grow up,” he said. “I want to have a farm and to work the land and care for the animals.”

He added, “Cosmin is the father I always wanted and never had. I love knowing he is there when I need him.”

So many children in Romania – and other countries in Eastern Europe – lack the role models they need to thrive. You can help send a child like Denis to summer camp, where our Christian staff and volunteers are there for them and give them a safe place to play this summer.

We are so excited that the summer camp programs will be running across Eastern Europe again in 2022! Although programs in Ukraine must be scaled back due to the war, we will be running two summer camps out of the planned eight this year while camp programs in Romania are being expanded to accommodate many of the kids that fled Ukraine with their families earlier this year.

You can help support the Mission Without Borders Summer Camp program through a gift today. Help give a child a safe place to play this summer.