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Why Mental Health Prevention Camps?

I've been a counsellor for almost half my life now. I've grown up a lot since I started and have learned a ton along the way. As life happens and things change I've also changed as a professional and my goals have shifted and I'm wanting to provide more prevention than intervention in counselling services. One of the biggest changes came for me about 6 years ago. That's when I started with Kona Kids and all the new things we could offer.

Camps were the first big step in this plan. Why camps you ask? Well, as a counsellor I see individuals, families, couples or sibling groups and some days when I meet with multiple children/teens and families I feel like I 'm repeating myself. I'm doing the same strategies but with different people each hour. My office, which is now located in an old yoga studio, has space to play and do lots of arts and crafts. When I decided to run camps I thought a lot about the value of a camp. I thought about the 15 hours with a counsellor doing skills and strategies while having fun with other kids ,versus 1 hour appointments every few weeks. After running the camps for 2 summers I've come to realize that the value isn't necessarily from what activities and strategies I'm facilitating, its the group discussion and the power that comes from children learning a similar thing and relating to each other. The value I've learned is in normalizing and recognizing that they are not the only one struggling, they are part of a group who can relate and who are also learning skills to be physically and mentally healthy. There is power in a collective of peers and that is what I've seen as the biggest value when doing mental wellness and mental health prevention.

Mental health struggles and challenges are not unique. We all have mental health that changes throughout our lifetime and we can all benefit from learning tools and strategies to maintain wellness. Mental health prevention is key to thriving through life's changes and challenges along the way.

This summer we are doing 8 different camps with repeating themes from the past few years and some new themes based on feedback and the creativity of the team! We are really looking forward to this summer!

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