One of the most common questions we receive from parents and counselors is, "How much is Camp SEK like a regular summer camp?" Though some parts of SEK, like group meals and outdoor team-building activities, seem like any other sleepaway camp, SEK is not your typical kids' program: It's an intensive therapeutic experience.
Our Christian identity also sets us apart: Campers will pray at the beginning and end of every day, and the entire SEK experience is guided by Christian faith.
Though generic summer camps send all their campers through the same set of activities, participants at SEK receive intensive therapeutics tailored to their individual needs. The average camper at the average camp wants to get outside and make new friends. The Camp SEK camper has deeper needs than that, including the need to connect with others in a new way to process difficult emotions, including past trauma, in a therapeutic environment.
For a teen processing grief and loss, the experience will center more around meditation, Dialectical Behavioral Therapy, and mindfulness. A teen struggling with self-esteem and communication skills will engage more with equine therapy and other forms of therapy that rely on nonverbal communication. Other therapy modalities include art therapy, psychodrama (acting out past experiences), and talk therapy, just to name a few.
An additional difference is our level of engagement with your child long before they arrive at SEK. We get to know your child in advance of the program through a confidential survey that measures their feelings about themselves and the world around them. This, plus the forms filled out by parents, are used to create a holistic therapy experience that meets your child where they are. The questionnaires we send ask open-ended questions about your family and trauma that your child may have experienced.
The more open and honest you and your child are on these forms, the better picture we will have of your child’s challenges, and the better we can meet his or her unique mental health needs. Each camper is assigned to a small group for the duration of camp based on their age and gender, and the responses on their intake forms help our therapist guide those small group discussions.
Like any other summer camp, for a week your child disconnects from social media and develops relationships with peers. Unlike other programs, SEK participants foster these relationships through deeply immersing themselves in a structured schedule of farm life therapy. They wake up each morning to the sound of chickens and go to bed early to get ready for a new day.
Standard summer camps are an escape from day-to-day responsibilities. Likewise, Camp SEK breaks participants out of their usual routines, but we also ask your child to be responsible for basic tasks like making their beds, cooking meals, and completing teamwork assignments. Camp SEK purposefully teaches participants how to successfully handle responsibilities. Running a farm is no small task, and it takes teamwork and communication - both skills teens need to develop to become successful adults.
Overall, SEK is designed to be a transformative therapeutic experience. Your child will return home with new confidence, new coping skills, and most importantly, a renewed sense of inner wellness and calm.