Kyle, a young boy from central Scotland, attended a Motiv8 camp I was involved with, held on a beach campsite near North Berwick. On the surface, he was a happy eleven-year-old, kitted out in a designer tracksuit and gold chain, with a football glued to his feet.
Kyle had the ability to make me laugh, while simultaneously driving me up the wall with his cheeky one-liners.
After the first night, I discovered more about Kyle. His youth worker shared with me that most days, he left his home at around 8am to go to school. He would meet his best friend Callum and it was guaranteed that they would always have a football.
Kyle would not be home again until after 10pm. He would entertain, feed and look after himself each day, and each night he would curl up on the living room floor. His mother suffered from alcoholism, and he would dutifully sleep by her at the foot of the sofa, waking through the night to ensure she did not suffocate in her alcohol-induced sleep. He would then be up and out by 8am to avoid the inevitable fall-out, for reasons that are easy to understand.
As his dorm leader, the first night was not fun. A room of eight pre-teen boys are difficult to get to sleep at the best of times, let alone when Kyle refused to stay in his bed. It was a very long night going in and out of the room.
The next night was the same, so I called in support. The Team Leader (a social worker) did an astonishing thing: he let them all sleep on the floor! A good example of thinking outside of the box, but it was another long night.
On the third night, the other boys returned to their beds, but Kyle stayed put on the floor at the foot of his bed.
The week progressed under the east coast sun, and the young people started talking with a growing openness about their lives. As the fun increased, and as they overcame tears and fears, they all found respite from the challenges of their home life. Hostility to authority figures waned, cooperation and behaviour improved, and the curt humour softened.
In my experience, these changes are common on a Motiv8 holiday. However, this progress alone did not make me think the week was worthwhile (although it should). What I will forever remember was checking the quiet room on the last night – and seeing Kyle sleeping in a bed, soundly. He was still there in the morning. For once he slept as a child should sleep – peacefully, in a bed.
David – Group Leader
Motiv8 holiday – Scoughall