Ron Hall talks “Camp Greenwood”
“Having something like Camp Greenwood in my pocket really takes a tremendous weight off my shoulders. I don’t need to worry about finding my great moment, because I’ve had a great moment. I had a great moment that lasted over 3 years. Praise God for that. It’s been a good run.” – Ron Hall, 1/15/12
Camp Greenwood started as “Neighborhood Destiny”, an open home. An “Open Home” by my definition was a home that inner city teens I was working with could come to most any time to rest, sleep, workout, use computers, watch TV, study, play video games, and get tutoring / homework assistance.
The “Open Home” was a risk. I think insurance wise, liability wise, and trust wise. I had plenty of items “disappear”, I took on risk that only one insurance company would touch, and I opened myself up to any number of liability issues. But in the end, “stuff” can be replaced, lives and changed lives can’t. I had an understanding landlord as well, who not only only understood but supported the effort.
During Year 1 & 2, it was at Sharpe Avenue and was walking distance for many of the kids. During the second year it was more “on – the – go” as we followed the teens through their various moves. During the second year, it moved to W. Greenwood Avenue and finally out towards Dickerson / Skyline. The Greenwood version was pretty amazing – a TV room, a guest room with gym, TV, and Air Hockey, a computer lab, and full kitchen / laundry room. The Greenwood Version lasted about a year, before we went back to the original model of doing it in a small 700 sqft 2-bedroom home in Dickerson / Skyline, a higher risk area of Nashville.
I think what letting kids in your home, while it is a risk, establishes a greater level of trust. They get to see you “live life”, they see “the good and the bad”, you’re taken to a new level of transparency and you get to re-set your boundaries a little. Boundaries are important, as you have to maintain some level of privacy and personal time but the trade-off is a much stronger relationship w/the kids which can pay off even after they move on.
Relocating into this area allowed me to also be more accessible – including many midnight runs, sometimes into the projects, sometimes to hospitals, sometimes places I didn’t even know I’d be going. Being able to respond to emergencies was something I valued greatly and still due with Camp Greenwood.
During the first year and a half, it was funded by donations, as well as a couple of times this last year. So even though I carry out the work alone most of the time these days, there have been those that have been a part and have kept the lights on, water running, and food stocked. In addition, financial supporters have covered various special needs of the kids such as sports fees, water billls, gas to get places, and school fees, not to mention school supplies, and clothing.
In addition, during year 1 & 2 I had some great friends who were in on the madness with me. We had a lot of fun together, and I won’t ever forget them.. Most of them are married now, with families of their own, and it’s my hope that – especially those that have children now – that they know how important they were to THESE kids – and that I know – know – that they all got the right stuff to be parents to their kids. I’ve seen it first hand.
I have been happy with Camp Greeenwood over the last few years. So many things have happened that have made it worth it to me – many amazing moments – many that I can’t blog publicly about. But it has been unlike anything I’ve ever done before, and I think it’s been an amazing part of many people’s lives. I’m glad people embraced it, as raw, as un-church-like as it’s been.