Keep The Arts

RandolphRandyCamp HarleyQuinn

Promoting and nurturing creativity is always a good thing.

Ever since I was a little boy I used to listen to the songs on the radio so intensely. I was fascinated by the stories and characters within these songs, especially the early songs of artists such as Curtis Mayfield and Bob Dylan.

When I was able to read I would read anything I could get my hands on, books, magazines, Readers Digest, etc. I was amazed at how someone could dream up something in their head, put it on paper and then see it come to life within the comics or in a novel.

One of my favorite classes at Spotsylvania Jr. High was 8th grade Language Arts. We kept a journal that we would turn in weekly and the teacher would give her feedback on it. In the journal we had the creative freedom to jot down our personal thoughts, write poems or short stories, etc. And, looking back now, I think that it was this particular class that really got my mind to open up and let some of the characters I’d been dreaming up out unto the page.

Sadly, across America in recent years, a lot of school districts have eliminated arts education from our classrooms (mostly due to budget issues). This is very unfortunate because I’ve personally experienced and come to know the extraordinary value of these arts educational programs and classes in our public schools. Without a doubt, my 8th grade Language Arts class and other arts-based classes definitely played a big role in cultivating my childhood passion for storytelling and creating my own original characters.

Although science, math and other STEM-related programs are crucial for students nowadays, I hope that school districts that are dealing with low funds and budget issues will find the balance and a way to compromise to keep arts education in their curriculum because I strongly believe that helping students to express themselves in creative ways builds a strong foundation for a productive child and a positive student.

I’m so grateful for all of my teachers during my early years in Spotsylvania County, Virginia, and God bless all of the moms, dads, dedicated volunteers, teachers and educators across the world who are helping kids and students every single day to open their minds and express themselves. – Randolph Randy Camp

More at https://www.amazon.com/author/randolphcamp

(By the way, no, I didn’t create the comic character Harley Quinn. That credit goes to Paul Dini and Bruce Timm.)

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Finding Strength: Coping With Grief

Melinda 1Melinda2_2019_jpeg

When you look at some people and see them smiling, I swear, you might be surprised to find out that there’s a whole lot of pain and grief hidden underneath that smile.

Not to get too technical, but within the several stages of grief, I’m definitely far from the upward turn. However, during my conversations with Melinda (who’ve been grieving in her own way for quite awhile now) I’ve been able to learn a thing or two and gather some strength.

Coping with the loss of a loved one is one of our toughest challenges. Melinda has been hit by this very issue, and although it devastated her, I must say though that I’m impressed by the way she’s able to find her ‘moments’, her little moments of strength.

With the loss of my grandson Anthony recently, I, myself, found a bit of strength during my conversations with Melinda. I’m nearly sixty years old, and it’s kind of amazing how this young lady has impacted my life, especially as I’m currently going through these stages of grief.

And once again, I would like to thank all of you who’ve been supportive (in any such way) as myself and our family are still coping with the loss of my grandson Anthony.

If you’re currently going through the stages of grief, I hope that, somehow, you too, are finding your little moments of strength. – Randolph Randy Camp

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Make Magic Happen

Randolph Randy Camp

There’s something uniquely special about you. Discovering this special thing inside of you will be your gift to the rest of us.

Along your journey there will be some who will try to belittle and ridicule you. There will be some who can’t wait ’til you fall or fail, but don’t let anyone slow you down.

In my own life experience, I’ve personally witnessed the beauty of staying true to yourself and staying positive. If you continue to believe in whatever your passion is and always follow your heart you will find out that people will gladly support you and your aspirations. These are the people that will extend their hand when you fall, instead of laughing at you. And this is why I’ve always believed that there are definitely more good people in this world than negative ones.

Sometimes it’s hard to see and realize that uniquely special thing inside of you because you’re constantly in survival mode or simply trying your best to maintain your sanity due to all of the crap surrounding you. If you keep believing in yourself, one day you will make magic happen when you find a way to turn that negative crap into something positive. – Randolph Randy Camp

More at https://www.amazon.com/author/randolphcamp

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Brick by Brick

Randolph Randy Camp RC

You’re capable of doing whatever you want to do. You are here for a purpose. Your thoughts and dreams are important. Regardless of your age, your zip code or your skin color, remember that there’s no expiration date on your goals and dreams. You were born for a reason. Rejection and ridicule are obstacles, but mere pebbles in the road. Don’t get discouraged. Dreams don’t expire. Brick by brick, step by step, keep your eye on the ball. You will get there. – Randolph Randy Camp

More at https://www.amazon.com/author/randolphcamp

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Everybody’s Thing

wetmatches.randycamp

Teen homelessness leads to human trafficking. Human trafficking leads to HIV. This is an endless cycle, which keeps evolving. This isn’t someone else’s thing. This is everybody’s thing. Sadly, the numbers are still rising, even in your hometown. Spreading the word, being more aware, and getting involved are little things in which we all can do to help confront youth homelessness. – Randolph Randy Camp

Learn more at https://prezi.com/gcen4hk_twcv/teen-homelessness

Posted in at risk youth, Author Randolph Randy Camp, HIV/AIDS, homeless, homeless teens, homeless youths, human trafficking, randolph camp, randolph randy camp, randy camp, rcstories, social issues, teen runaways, troubled teens, troubled youth, Uncategorized, wet matches | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Education: The Priceless Tool

School.Backpacks

It’s back-to-school season again and this can put a financial strain on a lot of families. Over the years, many non-profits, charitable and religious organizations have helped to relieve some of this financial burden from families by giving away free backpacks and other common school supplies.

Education is the most valuable tool you can equip your child with. I believe this wholeheartedly. My family was economically poor when I was coming up, but education made me rich in so many other ways, and it has opened so many doors for me.

Volunteering and working within the social field and the juvenile justice system over the years, I’ve personally seen the tremendous impact of a kid having a positive attitude towards school versus a kid who doesn’t. As I often say, “It’s better to pick up a book than a gun.”

When a kid stays in school they make better decisions, and, as mentioned before, so many more doors will open for them. Let’s do whatever we can to keep encouraging our youth to maintain their positive attitude towards school and their education.

If you know of a family in need and could use a free backpack and other school supplies, please check your local area for agencies and organizations participating in these Free Backpacks – School Supplies Giveaway Events taking place soon.  – Randolph Randy Camp

*(Note: If you reside in the Des Moines area, please check out the Free Filled Backpack Event at Polk County River Place on Saturday, August 3, 2019, or go to http://crossministriesdm.org/school-giveaway/  for more details.)

 

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Turning Negatives Into Positives

Randolph Randy Camp Wet Matches

Regardless of your age, gender, color, background, or which side of town you live on, you deserve to be happy, and always know that you are precious and uniquely special. Please don’t ever let anyone tell you differently.

One of my most enjoyable and greatest perks as a youth advocate and a writer is getting invited to various schools for classroom book talks. I absolutely love being around young, engaging students who genuinely care about their future and what’s currently going on, not only in America, but what’s happening all over the world as well.

Of course, these book talk sessions are primarily about one or two of my books, in which the students had read for a class assignment. But often, these book talks will slightly go off-topic, as a student may ask me a personal question, or perhaps, a student may get inspired to share some personal experience from their own life which relates to the story we’re discussing.

Just before summer break recently, in Kansas, a student had asked me what had inspired me to write my first novel ‘Wet Matches’? I love answering this particular question because it gives me a chance to talk about turning your negative experiences into something positive.

On the surface, we all know that ‘Wet Matches’ is about five homeless teens getting a second chance at a better life when a California couple takes them in. But the deeper origin and backstory of why I wrote ‘Wet Matches’ stems from my memory of being called the N-word at age 5 by a bigoted White man at a grocery store in Fredericksburg, Virginia.

I’ll never forget how low and dirty I felt when he’d called me that awful name. It made me feel worthless, like ‘wet matches’. So, as I got older and started to write more and more, I eventually turned this awful childhood experience into something positive. As I began to work on the first draft of ‘Wet Matches’, I would make quite a few changes to the plot and storyline but I always stayed true to the underlying tone and central theme, which is that absolutely no one, including the 5 homeless teens, should ever be treated in such a way that makes them feel worthless, no good, like ‘wet matches’.

As I’m telling the students about the deeper origin of ‘Wet Matches’, I always love it when one of the students suddenly feels moved to share a bad experience from their own life and then the whole class gets to weigh in on possible different ideas and ways to turn the student’s negative experience into something more positive.

‘Wet Matches’ won the Quarter-Finals Prize at the Writers Network Fiction Competition in Los Angeles. In 2012, The White House honored me with the President Volunteer Service Award due to the awareness ‘Wet Matches’ raised about teen homelessness and its correlation with rising HIV issues in America. (This 2012 Presidential Award is signed by President Barack Obama, and is encased and displayed in my hometown at the John J. Wright Educational Cultural Center Museum, located at 7565 Courthouse Road in Spotsylvania County, Virginia.)

As many of you journey through life, I hope that you also will try your best to turn any negative experiences into something more positive. – Randolph Randy Camp

Learn more at https://www.amazon.com/author/randolphcamp

 

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Getting Started

Randy Camp.Mobile.Library

Whatever you want to do in life you can do it. I didn’t realize it back then but the seeds of becoming a writer probably were planted years ago in rural Spotsylvania County when I used to sit along the banks of the Rappahannock River and sort of daydream for hours while watching the water flow.

Yep, when I was a little boy I definitely was one of them book nerds who paid more attention to the Rappahannock Regional Mobile Library route schedule rather than caring whether or not if the Washington Redskins beat the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday.

I owe some of my early dedication to a few of my elementary school teachers in Spotsylvania who gave me encouragement, especially when I naively would tell friends and classmates about some of the wild stories and dreams in my head and how the Rappahannock River was like a friend to me. I eventually became a somewhat quiet, shy kid because some of these kids would make fun of me and call me crazy. But I’ll never forget the day when one of my teachers said, “Randy, you’re not crazy, people tend to quickly call anything crazy that they don’t understand, and you’re just crazy about your stories, that’s all, so just start writing them down instead of telling the other kids about them.” Needless to say, I couldn’t stop writing after that.

Today, I’m so blessed and grateful to have readers, followers, and a small-but-growing fan base. Periodically, I would receive emails from aspiring writers from around the world expressing general comments and questions about getting started and copyright protection.

If you’re a budding writer and would like to know more about getting a literary agent, proper novel manuscript format, writing great query letters, or just general questions about protecting your material with the Copyright Office, here are a couple Links that could be helpful:

1. US Copyright Office (https://www.copyright.gov/registration/)

2. Writers Guild of America, East (https://www.wgaeast.org)

Lastly, it might be hard to believe, but it’s actually true that getting started on any or whatever your goals and dreams are can simply start by getting your library card, simple but actually true. – Randolph Randy Camp

More at https://www.amazon.com/author/randolphcamp

 

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Tommy’s Drive

Tommy

Have you ever met a kid with so much drive, potential, and natural talent but they always had to put their goals and dreams momentarily aside because ‘life happens’? Time after time, this has been the story in Tommy’s life.

My daughter Tasha has three sons, Anthony, Tyler, and Tommy. As some of you already know, Anthony was fatally shot just three weeks ago. Tommy is the oldest. Can you imagine being barely over twenty and giving the eulogy at your younger brother’s funeral, and then, only a few days later, you find out that your other younger brother is now in jail. How much can a young man take? Time after time, Tommy gets punched but keeps driving.

Tommy is all grown up now, but it seems as though Tommy’s childhood has been filled with unimaginable heartaches and numerous sacrifices, whereby he’s been forced to grow up fast and become a man way ahead of time. Ironically though, it’s these unfortunate events in Tommy’s young life that have catapulted him into the strong, tenacious gentleman he is today.

Tommy loves his family, and throughout his young life he has always put his own dreams and goals on the back burner whenever his mother or younger brothers needed him.

A few years ago, when his mother was hospitalized, Tommy was there stepping up to the plate. At a young age, many times over, Tommy has stepped up and became the man of the house. It’s a role that seemingly comes naturally to Tommy. He is absolutely a remarkable, driven young man.

Ever since he was little, Tommy has always loved music. Tommy is a musical prodigy. Tommy can play the piano, bass guitar, rhythm guitar, and drums. And what I especially love about Tommy’s musical taste is that, in spite of his young age, he still has a desire and love for old school retro soul and jazz. Bands and artists such as ‘Earth, Wind and Fire’ and bassist Stanley Clarke are high on Tommy’s playlist. The first time I heard my grandson Tommy play his rendition of Stanley Clarke’s ‘Rocks, Pebbles and Sand’, I was just blown away! Tommy has a natural ear for music, and I do believe that one day the world will readily know a few of his original songs.

After giving such a graceful and down-to-earth eulogy at his brother Anthony’s funeral, Tommy’s grief was interrupted and he had to shift gears and step up to the plate once again as he learned of his brother Tyler’s untimely incarceration.

The emotional and financial strain and stress of covering Anthony’s recent funeral and burial expenses have definitely taken its toll on the family. And now, as lightning has struck twice so quickly, Tommy has stepped up and created a fundraising campaign to raise enough money for his brother Tyler’s attorney fee. You see, Tommy will become an uncle soon, to his brother Tyler’s first child sometime in the next few weeks, in mid-August. And big brother Tommy is trying his best to raise these funds so that his brother Tyler could be released soon and able to see his baby’s birth.

Tommy has done a lot for his family already, so many sacrifices he has made. This time, let’s take some of the weight and financial burden off of Tommy’s shoulders. Let’s tell Tommy that this time he’s not alone in this battle by giving whatever you can to support his fundraising campaign.

I always believe that when you do positive things, people will support you and your positive efforts. Please join me in helping Tommy’s Drive to free his brother Tyler. Please CLICK the following Link if you would like to contribute or learn more about Tommy’s brother Tyler  (https://www.gofundme.com/f/freetylersummage)

Any amount you give would be greatly appreciated, and God Bless you all for helping Tommy’s Drive.

– (Grandpa) Randolph Randy Camp

*(Photo: Tommy Summage, Jr.)

 

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Courage To Walk Alone

Randolph Randy Camp

Due to the senseless, recent death of my grandson in New York it gave me a renewed appreciation for positive-minded kids, and got me thinking a lot about all of the positive kids out there who are doing their own thing and have no desire whatsoever to join a street gang.

Over the years as a youth advocate, I’d spoken with lots of lost kids who were at the crossroads, where they’re not sure if they want to join their neighborhood gang or not. When I was in Los Angeles in 2002, I remember having a one-on-one session with this big, muscular, tat-covered 15 year-old who got really upset with me because I’d told him that it was a sign of weakness to join a gang because it means that you’re too afraid to walk alone.

I could see his face tighten as he thought that I was insulting him by calling him ‘weak’, but I went on to tell him that when you don’t need a gun or a group of others dressed in similar clothing around you to make you “feel like a man” then you’re already on a good path towards manhood. As he got up in protest to walk out the door I further told him that it takes more courage to walk alone than to join a gang. He rolled his eyes and slammed the door as he left.

About a year later in 2003, this same big, thuggish-looking kid was one of many kids along the 26-mile route, cheering me on as I ran the LA Marathon to raise money for the I Have A Dream Foundation – LA Chapter. After I’d crossed the finish line, he excitedly told me that he’d re-enrolled back into school and he’d promised his mom that he wouldn’t ever join a gang. *(Update: Today, this gentleman is now a certified auto mechanic, married with 2 kids, and a homeowner in San Diego. He keeps in touch with me and calls me ‘pops’)

If any of you have friends and family who are currently dealing with a younger family member who maybe associated with a street gang, or maybe possibly at the crossroads, please try, in your own unique way, to get the message across to him or her that joining a gang is a sign of weakness, and that true strength and true courage happens when you do your own thing and you’re not afraid to walk alone.

After building up a bit of trust, some kids will be willing to listen but most will not. As a youth advocate, I’ve learned that you can’t change the mindset of a kid, only they can do that, but what you can do though is plant positive seeds into their heads and simply show by example how you’re living your life.

If a troubled kid is willing to listen, I try to explain to them that gang leaders love to recruit school dropouts because they’re easier to control, brainwash and manipulate because their minds are somewhat empty and they can’t think for themselves. That’s why I always encourage kids in gang-infested neighborhoods to stay in school and please don’t quit. Also, I remember trying to tell another kid that joining a gang will ‘limit you’ because gangs only associate themselves with one or two colors, and they only associate themselves with a certain street or two, or possibly a small section of town. Whereby, in contrast, those who walk alone associate themselves with all colors of the rainbow and they have the whole world, not just a limited area around the block. 

Walking alone isn’t easy, but at least you know that the whole world is yours. – Randolph Randy Camp

Posted in anti-gang, at risk youth, coming of age, dropouts, empowerment, high school, life journey, life lessons, mentoring, positive attitude, positive life, staying positive, troubled teens, troubled youth, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment