Guest post by Kerry Irvin, Camp Corral Corporate and Foundation Relationship Manager
April may be known nationally as the Month of the Military Child, but for Camp Corral the focus on military-connected children is a year-round mission.
This national non-profit organization starts with the child to serve the families of our nation’s military heroes. Camp Corral recognizes the very real hardships that go along with serving as a military-connected child – especially one who has experienced the trauma of having a parent become wounded, ill, or fallen as a result of their military service. The organization’s mission is to transform the lives of these children by providing camp, advocacy, and enrichment programs.
In keeping with a vision to empower military-connected children to live their best lives possible, the Camp Corral team develops and delivers specialized programming focused upon the unique attributes and challenges shared by these children and their families.
Since its inception in 2011, Camp Corral has served more than 28,000 children from every state in the nation offering intentional life tools to inspire strong and independent individuals. Along with fun traditional summer camp programs designed to provide respite, build peer-support connections, strengthen self-confidence, and reinforce coping skills, Camp Corral offers family camp retreats, virtual therapeutic art programs, peer connection activities, teen leadership development programs, and holistic supportive services.
Camp Corral is also a national leader and provider of educational resources, research, and advocacy related to the mental health concerns and life challenges faced by children of wounded, ill, and fallen military service members, many of whom provide caregiving duties within the wounded warrior family unit.
Research gathered from focus groups and parent surveys has driven the expansion of the organization’s resilience-forward programming and supportive services offered year-round, to include monthly resource webinars, advocacy opportunities, and ongoing additions to Camp Corral’s LifeTools for MilKids video resource library, which is available free of charge to families, schools, libraries, and other military support entities.
“We conduct on-going research to gain a better understanding of how these children and their families have been impacted, along with uncovering their immediate needs and preferences for alternative programming”, said Camp Corral Chief Program Officer, Hannah Hutler-Boyd. “Our research has shown us that children living in households with wounded, ill, or who have a fallen parent tend to encounter more stressful situations and assume a larger number of responsibilities, including serving as a caregiver to either siblings or a parent. Of the families who responded to our most recent survey, 69% of the parents stated their child helps with at least one item on a provided list of caregiving responsibilities.”
What began as a one-camp pilot program has grown exponentially to be the largest program of its kind, offering traditional summer camp sessions and family camp retreats which serve an at-risk military population. Camp Corral manages a network of host camps which are accredited by the American Camping Association (ACA), and are held to the highest standards in safety, staffing, and programming. Facilities are top-notch, activities are engaging and therapeutic, and the camp leadership carefully craft a community in which every child and their family is valued.
Camp Corral programs provide meaningful opportunities for healing, growing, and re-energizing a weary heart. For the children who participate with Camp Corral, they experience adventure, test their limits, challenge their fears, celebrate their accomplishments, and make life-affirming friendships that remind them they are not alone.
“We are proud to serve the children of those who serve our nation,” explained Camp Corral Chief Development Officer, Lori Noonan. “We understand that military families and their children, especially those living with more than the average hardships, thrive when given the opportunity to form connections based upon shared experiences. The benefit of a community support system is therapeutic for most of us; however, military children, veterans, and their families rely on the emotional and social support of others who can relate with their challenges and celebrate their successes. One of our goals is to help provide the community and the tools for them to do so.”
To learn more about Camp Corral visit their website at www.campcorral.org