August 16, 2013

That’s Me! – A morning at Camp Agape

Posted in Kids-A-Part tagged , , , , at 2:05 pm by Lund

Imagine having something that you don’t like to tell people but it’s something that you think about all the time and something that affects everything you do.  Imagine not being able to tell people why you are sad or angry and knowing that there is nothing they can do to help.   Now imagine going to a place where everyone is going through exactly the same thing and it is OK to talk, tell everything, share your worries, relax and have a good time.  For young people who have an incarcerated parent, Camp Agape is that place.

Founded in 2006, this camp located in Cabot Vermont offers free weeklong camps to any child who has a parent in prison.  Their guiding principle is to offer the children agape, a Greek word which means freely given, generous, unconditional, no-strings-attached love.  While the camp is Christian based it is open to children of all beliefs.

This past session, Jo Berger, Crystal Fisher and Jess Kell of Kids-a-Part, Lund’s program to help children stay connected to their incarcerated parents, went to visit Camp Agape.  They ran a craft activity with the 8 to 11 year old campers making dream catchers out of materials that they found in the woods.  It was not the activity, however, but the discussion around it that really struck them.

“After we had introduced ourselves as people who work with children who have a parent in jail, one little girl raised her hand. We called on her, thinking she had a question, but she just kept her hand up,” said Jo.  “Then she said, ‘That’s ME!’”  A bunch of other kids raised their hands and said the same thing.”

At one point, the campers broke into smaller groups and began to really talk. “It was organic,” says Crystal, “like group therapy.” At Camp Agape, there is freedom to speak the truth.  And there are also chicken nuggets for lunch because it is a place to just be a kid, not a kid with an incarcerated parent.


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