CEDAR LAKE | A handful of Jane Ball Elementary students have just completed camp, and it's not even summer yet.
Jane Ball School Counselor Bridget Helms closed out the Camp Care-A-Lot in April, the first program of its kind in the Hanover School District. Camp Care-A-Lot was a weekly program for Jane Ball students who needed a helping hand or encouragement.
Many of the more than 60 students have experienced a disruption in their home life, including parental divorce or other upheavals that have left them living with grandparents.
“The mission was to give children who are going through life changes or needing extra encouragement better coping skills — a better way of handling things,” Helms said.
Helms, who is in her first year as Jane Ball’s counselor, credits Counselor Lisa Eck of Arlington Elementary in Indianapolis for the idea of a children’s camp. Eck gave a presentation on a similar program she ran during the Indiana School Counseling Conference last November.
“It’s been great. The kids have really gotten into it,” she said.
The camp was divided into two groups, one for 1st and 2nd graders, another for 3rd grade through 5th.
Helms broke the groups down further into “cabins,” or smaller groups of six to eight, for the weekly meetings in her classroom.
“It’s been an amazing program in that you can take in so many kids,” she said. “We had 60 kids, which is a tenth of our school population.”
Much of the camp time was spent on learning creative ways to cope with situations or feelings that might be difficult. For example, one session focused on a creative way to handle anxiety. Cabin members learned how to do doodle art as a way of calming down or "de-stressing."