We have a “Dale” at camp this week, and the truth is every child that has been abused or neglected needs one. I saw Dale for the first time Monday night when I went out the camp with a group of men to relieve the male counselors for a couple of hours. We show up in the evening, so they can get a break to shower and relax after a full day of serving a special group of children. As the counselors were leaving the area, I saw this guy wearing shorts, boots, and a very large cowboy hat. I wondered how we got an offensive lineman from the Dallas Cowboys to serve at camp. He made me look like a 9 year old boy when I stood next to him, and I am not exactly a little guy. I soon learned that every child that has experienced abuse needs a Dale.
Dale is functioning as a “Dean” or a “Head Men’s Counselor” along with Rodney, who is an equally remarkable advocate for children in trouble. We were short on relief workers last night, so he helped me in my assigned cabin. Some people are just gifted in working with children who have suffered abuse and neglect. Feeling sorry for those kiddos is not helpful. And other the other hand, being heavy handed really does not work well either. It just takes someone who instinctively knows what to do. Dale is that guy. Every struggling child needs one.
I watched last night as he clearly articulated his expectations for bedtime in the cabin. He possesses command presence. The boys are a handful, but they responded quite well. And then I watched this moose of a man gently tuck the boys in their bunks, and communicate warmth to them at such a crucial time of day. Bear in mind that bedtime for a child that has been abused is not a time of day filled with good memories. In a matter of moments the lights were out, and so was a cabin full of rambunctious boys. Dale and I were sitting on the porch of the cabin enjoying the nice summer evening. As I checked on the slumbering cabin, I realized at that moment that every little boy who has been taken advantage of by a predator needs a “Dale.”
Every child needs adult mentors in their life. In the case of a little one who has been abused, that need is even more pronounced. Every little boy needs a man that he can look up to as a hero. I suppose that is why boys dream of being a firefighter someday. They view firefighters as heroes that rescue people in trouble. They want a hero.
I am grateful to Dale for being hero to a group of boys that have not had many breaks in life. I am thankful that he is using his gifts to serve those with the greatest need. I am thankful they can have a hero for the week. Oh…and by the way. Dale won’t play on the offensive line for the Cowboys this fall, but he is a firefighter professionally. A consummate hero… I am reminded this morning that every little boy that has been abused needs a Dale.