Concord, NH- The New Hampshire Department of Education and the New Hampshire Community Behavioral Health Association recently completed another summer camp season, successfully integrating mental health supports into the camp experience. Across the state of New Hampshire, summer camps and campers benefited from the partnership between the two organizations, resulting in 440 one-to-one services provided.
In 2021, Commissioner Frank Edelblut and the Department launched Rekindling Curiosity, a program that utilized ARPA funds to pay for children to attend camps and summer programs. This year’s data shows a 105% increase in participating summer programs, a 222% increase in completed applications, a 262% increase in students awarded, and a 266% increase in funds awarded.
In addition, the Commissioner partnered with the NH Community Behavioral Health Association and its’ ten community mental health centers across the state to work with their local camps and provide mental health supports for the campers.
“The Rekindling Curiosity program has been a tremendous success and has offered every child in New Hampshire the ability to create memories at a summer camp – regardless of their family’s economic status. And, by continuing to support development of the whole child, New Hampshire aims to rise above the disruptive effects of the pandemic,” said Edelblut.
The children’s directors from these camps began meeting in late winter to prepare their staff and camp directors for a successful integration. Melissa Colby, Children’s Director at Riverbend Community Mental Health Center, says, “The summer camp program was a huge success this
year and a great benefit to our community. The mental health trainings and ongoing support we provided to camp counselors were very well received. We consulted with counselors to help them support campers’ positive social interactions and identify ways they can respond when a camper is in distress. Through social emotional groups, and supporting individual campers one on one, we were able to develop and support positive coping skills to help campers manage their emotions.”
Community mental health centers have continued their services into the 2022-2023 school year with after- school programs such as the Boys & Girls Club and the YMCA. Barbara Merrill, LCMHC, Director of Child, Adolescent & Family Services with Greater Nashua Mental Health Center said, “This fall we are happy to be present in the after-school programs, to continue providing support and education to not only the students but staff as well. It is important that the youth and staff can participate in these programs and have positive and successful experiences all around.”
For more information on the summer camp programs, after school programs or Rekindling Curiosity, contact Kate Sullivan at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The NH Community Behavioral Health Association is a trade organization comprised of the ten community mental health centers throughout New Hampshire. These centers serve individuals in our state who are living with—and recovering from—mental illness and emotional disorders. The goal of the Association is to raise awareness about the crucial role played by community- based mental health centers in the provision of mental health services to those living with and recovering from mental illness in New Hampshire. In addition, the Association serves as an advocate for a strong mental health system across New Hampshire.