Camp SEK was birthed out of tragedy when Keath and Alyssa Killebrew of Flora, Mississippi lost their second daughter to COVID in 2020. After spending a week at an intensive grief therapy retreat, the couple decided to build a program using both of their passions: tending fields with Keath’s farming expertise and tending souls with Alyssa’s experience as a clinical psychologist.
Their passions aligned during their time at the grief retreat. It was during that week that this farmer and his psychologist wife decided to take their pain and create a place for adolescents to heal from trauma. And they were doing it all in the name of their beloved daughter, Sara Elizabeth Killebrew, from whose initials Camp SEK gets its name.
Working in the field of psychology, Dr. Killebrew found that the biggest traumas usually occur in childhood and, if not treated with care, can lead to life-long mental health problems. At the same time, Keath frequently helped young men find self-worth and life-long careers using their hands and hearts to feed their communities by working on farms. Keath wanted to teach teens how to work hard and learn farm life principles like integrity, timeliness, respect, and discipline. Together, Dr. Killebrew and Keath founded the camp on their farm in Flora.
The Killebrews are steadfast in their Christian beliefs, and they view the Bible as having all the lessons children need to learn through study and group discussion. Thus, SEK was created with the following guiding tenets in mind: hardworking commitment to farm life, Christianity, and strong mental health.
What is farmlife therapy?
In our fast-paced Western world, many of us are agriculturally illiterate. That is to say we have no understanding or real-life knowledge of where our food or clothing fiber comes from. We eat processed foods and spend hours on social media inside air-conditioned homes. No wonder so many of us have lost our childlike wonder and playful spirit!
In our society, few people actually cultivate, harvest, and produce food and fiber. The few who do work in these industries produce goods on such a large scale that we, as individuals, no longer have to travel on horseback to gather and hunt for food.
Keath always said that farming can’t really be explained without physically immersing a person in the day-to-day operations of a working farm. But once you put someone on a farm, they are able to easily connect with the work their ancestors did.
Keath and Alyssa knew their project would have the greatest impact through a curriculum that includes agricultural exposure such as seed planting, gardening, eating farm-to-table meals together, cooking over a fire, playing outside in nature, watching the sun rise and set while looking out over the crops, arrowhead hunting, creating art, and having honest talks about things that bother you in real time so you don’t have to bottle things up.
The Killebrews believe that life here is not just an adventure, it is sacred. Because life is so precious, we should all be living our best lives. At SEK, your child will be deeply immersed in the process of working through life’s struggles using an adventure based, action-oriented farmlife experience.