ABILENE, Texas (KTAB/KRBC) – The French Robertson Unit, a maximum-security State prison in Abilene, has something brewing for the good of its inmates and their families. Chaplains of the prison want to host a one-day camp called A Day with God, where children will have the opportunity to spend the entire day with their incarcerated parent – instead of just a short visit. However, due to a lack of volunteers, these chaplains say the camp may not happen.

Although many children get to spend time with their parents while they’re growing up, when a parent goes to prison, it is not always just punishment for the one being incarcerated, but also for their children. 

“The guys that are in here, they did make a single mistake. Maybe it was multiple mistakes, but the kids didn’t make the mistake,” said Chaplain Philip Carlton. 

KTAB/KRBC spoke with some children whose mother wished to keep their identities anonymous, and they said they get to visit their dad in prison sometimes, but only for a couple of hours at a time. Even though they are able to have contact visits on the weekends, they are never to spend a whole day with him.

Their mother continued, “This is going to be the only time that they will be able to do that, because the time he is sentenced for, he won’t be out until they’re adults.” 

That is, if they get to spend the whole day with their dad, because there is a possibility of this camp not happening due to a lack of volunteers. 

Chaplin Carlton said they have 45 volunteers who are there to make sure things go smoothly, but they are needing 60-70 more by next week or they may have to cancel. Even though the event is not for another month, they have to be sure everyone has background checks and everything available for a safe camp inside the unit.

It’s a really important initiative, according to Chaplain Carlton, because it’s a long-term unit and it may be the only day some kids will get to see their fathers, “[These prisoners] could be here for life and never get to spend that one-on-one time with their kids… It will help the unit itself have a more positive light.”

A Day with God is scheduled to be held Saturday, November 19 and is an all-day event.

Chaplain Carlton said volunteers can do many different things; including helping with food, helping set up games, or just loving on the children. He said he expects the children to be emotional, and will need people there to help them if they need to talk. Some volunteers will also help with getting the children loaded up to go from a local church. 

Click here to volunteer or learn more.