Environmental Health

Mental Health

CAMPER MENTAL HEALTH

As the camp season begins, it is important to consider the mental wellbeing of campers after such a difficult year. Campers may know someone who has contracted or passed away from COVID-19 and may need additional support during the camp season.

Additionally, many campers may have been isolated from friends and extended family for the last year and have been limited to virtual learning, impacting social and emotional development . Campers may feel confused and stressed about transitioning from being told to avoid people and to social distance to now being in small groups and interacting with other campers and staff.

Anxiety, separation anxiety, depression, and stress in children have been on the rise. Recognizing behavioral changes and providing proper support can help children cope with these issues. The following resources can help you provide support to your campers

 

Camp Activities

Consider including some of the following activities and tips into your camp routine this year to help campers cope with anxiety, stress, and depression.

  • Emotional Check-In – Have children express how they feel upon arrival to the camp using words, circling a visual feeling face, or drawing their emotions on a dry erase board. Masks can make it difficult to emit and read social and emotional cues. By having a visual or auditory emotional check-in, this allows you to know how a camper is feeling.

  • Alternate Greeting – Have the campers use an alternate greeting upon arrival such as a high five, a thumbs up/down, a self-hug, etc. This can indicate the child’s mood or feeling for that day.

  • Deep Breathing Mindfulness Exercises – Mindfulness is a self-regulation technique that helps to focus on the present. This exercise can help campers feel calm, focused, and in control. Mindfulness begins with slow and deep breathing. Try Belly Breathing, Shapes Breathing (Triangle Breathing, Square Breathing, or Lazy 8 Breathing) or Bumble Bee Breathing.

  • Role-Playing or “Act It Out” – Have Staff/Adults act out a scenario causing a certain emotion or situation and demonstrate proper coping skills. Encourage campers to share appropriate ways of coping.

  • Icebreaker Games – Play icebreaker games to get campers to know each others’ interests.

  • A Schedule and/or A Routine – Routines give campers structure and tells them what to expect next.

  • Ask Open-Ended Questions – This allows campers the opportunity to speak about their feelings and emotions with more detail. This is generally one-on-one.

 

STAFF/ADULT MENTAL HEALTH

Camp staff and adults should also consider their own mental wellbeing and that of their peers, as many peers can be teenagers or young adults. Be mindful of warning signs and encourage staff support to ensure that everyone’s mental health is the best it can be to provide campers and children with the proper support as well.

You or other staff members may know someone who has contracted or passed away from COVID-19 and may need additional support.

Use the following resources to help you care for yourself and help support others:

 

MENTAL HEALTH CRISIS HOTLINES

New Jersey's Child Abuse/Neglect Hotline

All reports of child abuse and neglect, including those occurring in institutional settings such as child care centers, schools, foster homes and residential treatment centers, must be reported to the State Central Registry (SCR). This is a toll-free, 24-hour, seven-days-a-week hotline. If a child is in immediate danger, call 911. For more information please visit: Prevent Child Abuse NJ

Call 1-877 NJ ABUSE (1-877-652-2873)
TTY 1-800-835-5510

 

The Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline

The Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline is dedicated to the prevention of child abuse. Serving the U.S. and Canada, the hotline is staffed 24 hours a day, 7 days a week with professional crisis counselors who — through interpreters — provide assistance in over 170 languages. The hotline offers crisis intervention, information, and referrals to thousands of emergency, social service, and support resources. All calls, texts and chats are confidential.

Call 1-800-422-4453

 

New Jersey Hopeline

NJ Hopeline provides support, assessment and, if needed, intervention in the most cooperative and least restrictive manner to New Jersey residents in emotional distress and suicidal crisis.

Call 1-855-654-6735

 

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline provides free and confidential emotional support to people in suicidal crisis or emotional distress 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, across the United States. 

Call 1-800-273-8255 for English; 1-888-628-9454 for Spanish.

 

National Domestic Violence Hotline

National Domestic Violence Hotline provides essential tools and support 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year to help survivors of domestic violence so they can live their lives free of abuse.

Call 1-800-799-7233 or Text LOVEIS to 22522

 

National Sexual Assault Hotline

National Sexual Assault Hotline, operated by RAINN (Rape, Abuse, Incest National Network)

Call 1-800-656-4673

 

The Trevor Project

The Trevor Project is the leading national organization providing crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer & questioning (LGBTQ) young people under 25.

Call 1-866-488-7386

 

Crisis Text Line

Crisis Text Line will help you move from a “hot moment” to a “cool moment”.

Text HOME to 741741

 

Last Reviewed: 6/1/2021