East End's Camp Mariposa
On Friday night, the 7th of December, a group of 29 children between the ages of 9 and 12 and the accompanying staff, backpacks, pillows and sleeping bags, all piled into a school bus heading for Camp Kern to spend the weekend. While it isn’t all that unusual for urban kids to go to Camp Kern during the winter, what is special about this group is that they all have experiences with drug addiction in their families. They are Children of Addicts, who have suffered an extreme ‘adverse childhood experiences’, and have been given the opportunity to heal. Part of the healing is to re-learn how to just be kids.
East End’s ‘Camp Mariposa’ is the name of the program that sends a single cohort of kids away to Camp Kern six weekends a year to have fun, experience nature, and leave the pain, stress, anger, fear and guilt feelings behind.
But there is a serious side. On Saturday afternoons, the children gather to write a personal Letter to Addiction. They are invited to read their letters out loud to the group, then together they gather around the campfire and toss them into the flames. It’s an emotional but empowering experience for the children that helps them cope with stress a bit better.
In January East End will invite the children and their families to come together each week to help them put the pieces of their broken families back together. The program is called ‘Creating Lasting Family Connections’ and will help families learn skills to effectively communicate with and support each other, and rebuild their relationships.