Camp teaches kids how to cope

3/15/2006

Special to the Advocate

Healing takes time.

Children may no longer be talking about Hurricane Katrina, but its impact is still felt. Children need to be given the tools to rebuild their lives emotionally and spiritually. Camp Noah is a way to do just that.

Camp Noah is a week-long, faith-based day camp offered for children in grades K-6 who have experienced a disaster. The camp’s curriculum is based on the Old Testament story of Noah and the flood. It is a program developed, owned and coordinated by Lutheran Social Service of Minnesota, with major support from Lutheran Disaster Response.  It is endorsed by the United Methodist Committee on Relief and seeks to partner with others to minimize the cost. 

The Mississippi Conference seeks churches interested in partnering with other churches — United Methodist and other denominations — to host these camps. The goal is to have three Camp Noah host sites along the Gulf Coast. DeLisle Mount Zion UMC has agreed to be one site.

This could be an alternative use of time and resources previously designated for vacation Bible schools for the summer. The conference Spiritual and Emotional Care Task Force will provide support for host churches, and to relieve financial strain on families, who normally would have to pay for their children to attend. The Mississippi Conference has decided to use UMCOR money to cover the children’s cost.

Campers explore their experiences through small group discussion, art, crafts, journaling and play. They are always “invited” to share their experience, but never forced. Sometimes children may be struggling with symptoms that reflect the high degree of impact they have experienced, such as excessive fear with severe weather or regressive behaviors. Each camp has a professional mental health worker on site to provide additional support if needed to help campers cope and better understand their emotions. 

Mental health workers are also available to provide information and limited support to parents individually or in groups.