Supporting Youth Mental Health at Summer Camp
Anxiety returning to in-person activities
“When in-person summer camps shut down last year, many kids found new friends and groups online. They discovered they could be who they are online in ways they couldn’t be in person. The resiliency has been amazing. For some kids, the transition back to in-person activities and school causes anxiety and grief. They don’t have access to their online communities in the same ways they have had during the pandemic,” said YES Behavioral Health Support Specialist at Highland Health Center and camp facilitator, Sarah Burdell.
A supportive space at Highland Summer Camp
As youth experience an increase of anxiety easing back to in-person activities, finding a supportive environment is crucial. Thanks to funding from the Best Starts for Kids Initiative and the partnership between YES and International Community Health Services (ICHS), students will find that space at the third annual Highland Health Center Summer Camp. The camp is a summer support program of the Highland School-Based Clinic located at Bellevue’s Highland Middle School.
Highland Health Center Summer Camp is a free three-week summer day camp for 15 students who have sought services at the Highland Middle School Health Center within the school. The day camp will provide students a safe environment and opportunities to socialize, have fun, learn new skills, and move their bodies. Staff will include YES and ICHS clinicians and graduating eighth-graders and high school students who will be junior counselors.
Discovering pathways at the zoo
Campers will have a blast together doing art projects, playing sports, having group discussions, and going on field trips. The Highland Health Center is partnering with local non-profits to introduce campers to different careers. For example, one of the trips being planned is a trip to the Woodland Park Zoo where campers would get to go behind the scenes.
“We have kids who want to work with animals. This gives them an opportunity to learn about careers that people don’t traditionally learn about. For example, we hope to introduce them to everyone from a zookeeper to fundraiser, to event planner to vet techs. It takes many talents to care for animals. We want to show them as many as possible,” said Sarah.
Only possible through community support
YES will be able to offer the Highland Summer Camp, for the third year in a row, thanks to community support and local partnerships, and continue to support youth and families struggling with mental health and substance use challenges.
Please consider making a gift today to provide children, youth, and families programs that support their mental health and recovery like the Highland Health Center Summer Camp. Thanks to donations like yours, no family is turned away because they can’t afford to pay for services.