“Overcoming The Storms Of Life” Youth Camps
By Melissa Keller
What a busy summer this has been for Hope4Healing Staff and Volunteers. This summer, we held a youth camp at each elementary school in Marshalltown, Iowa and worked with K-2nd graders who were attending summer school for reading/language proficiencies. Our camps were a joint collaboration between numerous volunteers, mental health therapists, Marshalltown police officers, equine helpers, and more. We all joined our talents together, and the camps were a wonderful success. Our camp theme was “Overcoming the Storms of Life.” The goals for our camps included teaching youth methods to reduce worries and anxieties, and understanding how to be prepared for and respond to emergencies. Each camp had five stations, and youth were divided into small groups as they navigated each camp station.
The camps also focused on ways to help youth reduce anxiety and be prepared when the storms of life come. As Marshalltown, IA is now 3 years post tornado recovery, our camp volunteers have found that many of the youth are not struggling with the aftermaths of the Marshalltown Tornado so much as youth and their families have been working to recover from many of life’s storms (such as Covid employment struggles, paying bills, food insecurities). Of course there are families that are still struggling with home repairs and dealing with headaches of insurance claims between both storms that hit in the last few years (the 2020 Derecho that hit Central Iowa with 140 mph winds and the 2018 EF3 Tornado that hit Marshalltown). Each youth left the camp with Hope4Healing pamphlets, and contact information and understood that if their families needed help, that Hope4Healing would be glad to help and that we would do our very best to help their families. We have received several calls since the camps, and contacted their families as promised.
Another fun activity was the “Tell Your Story Time” in which youth were able to listen to a story about a dragon who learned to overcome his anxieties. Youth were then able to draw and share about their own fears with their peers, and caring adults. This was a moment of healing for many youth this summer as many of them were finally able to put their feelings into words.
At each camp, youth were able to groom horses. Many youth were fearful of being up close to such large animals, but they learned to conquer this fear and many found themselves falling in “love” with the horses by the end of their time with them. Finally, each camp had a police officer teach about what to do in emergencies, read another story, and then youth were able to make a craft with the police officer. We are so thankful to have had the privilege to work with the youth this summer, and are considering ways to do other similar camps in the future in different parts of Iowa. It is our hope and prayer that each youth that we worked with will understand that there are adults who care about them and that when they feel scared, it is ok to reach out and talk to them and not keep their depression and anxieties bottled up inside. It is also our prayer that God will use the time we spent together to work in ways to help meet the spiritual needs of each student.
If you are interested in having Hope4Healing work with you in hosting a camp with your school, community group, or church, contact us at 866-584-4673 to find out more information. As our ministry continues to grow, we are in need of volunteers from various backgrounds to help us serve those who contact us. If you are interested in becoming a Hope4Healing Volunteer, please contact us for more information.
We appreciate your continued prayers for our ministry. We would ask that you consider financially supporting our ministry with a donation of any size. Our mailing address is Hope4Healing PO Box 48 Gladbrook, IA 50635. Your support allows us to continue serving children and families so that we can be there to assist them when they need us the most.