Applications are being accepted now for Camp Alabama Storm, which will be held Nov. 12 and 13. The free camp is open to children 8 through 12.
The camp will be operated by local volunteers who are experts in children’s grief and trauma.
Organizer Judy Ault said she has been hesitant to define the level of trauma a child must have experienced in order to participate.
“How do you given the scope of what’s happened? Is it the loss of a neighborhood? A pet? A friend? A home? These are all huge changes in your life,” said Ault, who operated a similar camp for children for seven years.
Instead, Ault and other volunteers are welcoming any child who is feeling the effects of the storm and would like to spend a weekend having fun with some peers.
Some of the activities planned include a drum circle, arts and crafts, hayride, bonfire, storytelling, outdoor cookout, canoeing, hiking, live music and outdoor games.
Participants will likely find healing in unexpected places.
For example, the children will be asked to build a mouse house from items they gather in the woods.
“The house represents something that has happened to them or their home. When they start to describe it, a lot of things come up for each person,” Ault said.
Ault also hopes to have a booth on-site where children can tell their stories from April 27.
Space for the camp is limited to 70 children so activities can be done in small groups.
Ault said a second session has already been planned for March that could potentially be offered for another age group.
Volunteers have raised $13,000 and hope to get another $25,000 to cover expenses for the camp.
Tax -deductible donations can be directed to Camp McDowell.
A copy of the camper application is available online at campalabamastorm.wordpress.com.
For more information, contact Ault at firstname.lastname@example.org or Rev. Mark Johnston at email@example.com .
Camp Alabama Storm is a collaborative effort of volunteers from the Birmingham Jewish Federation, the Alabama Episcopal community, Amelia Center, Children’s Hospital of Alabama, Hands On Birmingham, UAB Health System, Alabama Department of Mental Health, Collat Jewish Family Services, Community Grief Support Service and Alabama Project Rebound, a crisis recovery initiative that addresses the emotional well-being of Alabamians affected by the April 27 tornados.