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Feature film CAMP based on Evangel grad's Royal Family Kids Camp

April 23, 2013 | Paul K. Logsdon

Inspired by true stories from camps for abused and neglected children, the motion picture “CAMP” held its world premiere February 22, 2013, and has been playing in theaters across the nation this spring.

The film, a sophomore project for Roebuck Media, is a fish-out-of-water story about investment advisor Ken Matthews (Michael Mattera), who volunteers to go to camp to impress a client, but finds himself paired with an angry, troubled 10-year-old camper named Eli (Miles Elliot, “The Mentalist”).

“The movie shares the story of hope on the big screen that camps provide to these forgotten children,” says  writer/director Jacob Roebuck, who thought of the idea for the script when volunteering at a Royal Family Kids (RFK) camp.

RFK was founded by 1969 Evangel University graduate Wayne Tesch more than 25 years ago.

Wayne Tesch

Evangel grad Wayne Tesch is the founder of Royal Family Kids Camps, upon which the movie CAMP is based.

“That week became the hardest and yet the best week of my life. I learned what it meant to love kids that no one else wanted,” says Jacob Roebuck, writer and director of CAMP.

“Jacob came to one of our camps out of obligation, and his life was changed forever,” says Tesch. “This movie is a result of that encounter.”

Royal Family Kids Camps are for  children ages 6 to 12 who are in foster care. The majority have been abused in some way.

“They don’t know what a loving family is,” says Tesch. “We try to show them.”

RFK camps have one counselor for every two children, and they try to create a family atmosphere by having staff members who are “caring grandpas and grandmas, aunts and uncles. We want to show what a family should be,” says Tesch.

Royal Family has 9,000 adult workers who volunteer a week of their time per year. The camps have been so successful, that RFK has expanded to offer local clubs and mentoring programs that are open year round.

“We’re about relationships,” says Tesch, “and it all starts with a camp experience.”

With 27 different church denominations sponsoring camps, their base of support is broad. With more than 400,000 kids in foster care in the United States, the need is broader.

The movie, CAMP, will play in Springfield, Missouri, at the Campbell 16 starting this Friday, April 26, through Thursday, May 2. A portion of every ticket will go to support the RFK Camps in the Springfield area. For more information about the movie, including a trailer, and a full list of theater openings, visit the CAMP website.

Everyone involved has high hopes for the movie.

“We hope to raise awareness for new camps, volunteers for existing camps, and funding to help more foster care kids,” says Tesch.

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