Life at home was a nightmare for Paige. Her father was incarcerated, and she desperately needed someplace safe to get away to.
She was only 8 years old, but she was already carrying burdens that no child should have to bear.
Macie also came from a home that had been shattered by crime. Her mom spared no detail in describing to her the crimes her father had committed that resulted in his incarceration.
Her father's past frightened her, and she wasn't sure that anyone would ever understand how lonely she felt.
As the children of prisoners, both Paige and Macie were at high risk of abuse, poverty, and incarceration themselves one day.
And then they found Angel Tree Camping.
'SOMEONE ON MY SIDE'
For Macie, Angel Tree camp was where she felt wanted.
"I got to come to camp, know God, and have something to look forward to," she says.
Macie swam in crystal-clear lakes, toasted marshmallows, and sang songs around the campfire. "I always had someone on my side—the counselors and Jesus."
Life at home grew more tumultuous, but she knew that when summer came, she'd see Paige again and be back in a safe place that she loved.
ENCOURAGEMENT AND SUPPORT
At Angel Tree camp, Paige and Macie were surrounded with caring counselors and friends who made them feel welcome and taught them more about God's love. Even after camp was over for the summer, Angel Tree staff stayed in touch, encouraging both girls to keep on following Jesus.
When Paige's mom was killed in a car wreck, Angel Tree was there for her. "No matter where I go, they find me because they love me," she says, her eyes glistening with tears.
Macie always felt safer after she came home from Angel Tree camp. When loneliness overwhelmed her, she'd remember what she learned to do at camp—trust in Jesus, read her Bible, and pray.
A NEW GENERATION
When Paige and Macie reached high school, they began to talk of becoming Angel Tree counselors to serve younger kids. The next summer found them at Angel Tree again, helping other kids with moms and dads in prison make lifelong friendships and grow closer to God.
"Without Angel Tree, these kids wouldn't get to know God," Paige says. "Without camp, I probably would not have God in my life."