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Camp Noah takes Berks students to Maryland

Camp Noah volunteer reading to child
Camp Noah

Penn State students from Berks, Brandywine, and University Park campuses traveled to two Maryland communities to help children who are still recovering from the devastation caused by Hurricane Sandy as part of Camp Noah. The camps were held the week of July 28–August 1, 2014.

Under the guidance of Dr. Jayne Leh, Assistant Professor of Special Education, and Pastor David Hershey, Berks campus minister, 33 Penn State students helped over 90 children in Kindergarten through sixth grade cope with the memories, trauma and ongoing issues associated with poverty and homelessness that linger in their communities. They were also accompanied by Maria Tinoco, Admissions Counselor at Penn State Berks. One camp was held in Crisfield, Maryland and the other was held in Princess Anne, Maryland.

The weeklong day camps are intended to help children build resiliency skills through a carefully designed curriculum that includes recreation, art, song, journaling, discussion, and play. The camp curriculum helps the children regain a sense of hope as they recover by processing their loss in a caring and supportive environment.

Leh has participated in Camp Noah since 2007 and first got Penn State Berks students involved in 2011 when she tested the idea of a Penn State team by taking four Berks students along with her church team to Huntsville, Alabama. In 2012, 11 students volunteered–enough to form a Penn State team–and they traveled with Leh and Hershey to Nanticoke, Pa. In 2013, the response doubled and 24 Berks students traveled to Newtown, Connecticut to work with children affected by the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings.

“The response continues to overwhelm me,” states Leh. “I was surprised at the student response last year when we took 24 students to Sandy Hook, but this year there were over 40 applications, so we had enough students for two teams.”

According to Leh, Camp Noah is mutually beneficial to the children it serves and Penn State Berks students. She explains that it is a particularly good fit for Berks students enrolled in the college’s Childhood and Early Adolescent Education program and Applied Psychology program, but many other disciplines were represented as well.

The program is operated and coordinated on a national basis by Lutheran Social Services of Minnesota. Camp Noah is a week-long day camp for children whose communities have been impacted by disaster. Camps are held in the disaster-affected area in cooperation with local partners. Screened and trained caring volunteers provide a safe, fun atmosphere for children to tell their stories, grieve their losses, build resiliency skills, and find hope for the future.

For more information on Penn State Berks students’ involvement in Camp Noah, contact Leh at 610-396-6413, or via e-mail at JML53@psu.edu.

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