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Lutherans Offer Camps for Young Gulf Coast Disaster Survivors

To: National Desk

Contact: John R. Brooks, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, 773-380-2958, john.brooks@elca.org

CHICAGO, June 16 /Christian Newswire/ -- Lutheran Social Service of Minnesota (LSSM) will offer more than 65 week-long therapeutic camps this summer for school-aged children who were affected by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005. In cooperation with Lutheran Social Services of the South and Lutheran Disaster Response, a ministry of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) and Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, LSSM will offer children an opportunity for fun and healing with Camp Noah programs this summer in Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri and Texas.

A detailed report on the 2006 Camp Noah programs is at http://www.elca.org/news/Releases.asp?a=3379 on the ELCA Web site.

The Camp Noah curriculum centers on the biblical story of Noah, allowing children to confront their disaster experiences in a faith-based, supportive environment.

Each day follows a different theme and offers a variety of activities including guest speakers such as meteorologists, emergency response personnel or police; field trips; games; small-group time; skits; and crafts, such as creating disaster readiness kits.

Camp Noah offers a safe setting for children to address their fears in an effort to relieve reactive symptoms often experience after a disaster. In 2003 the Mississippi Center for Disease Control and Prevention conducted a multi-state evaluation of Camp Noah's effectiveness. The results showed that, after attending camp, “examples of behavioral and symptom changes included children being calmer, better able to speak about what happened to them, sleeping through the night and having stopped regressive behaviors.”

This summer most of the camps will be organized and run by volunteers from congregations and church organizations around the country. Because the camp is free of charge for the children, LSSM relies on volunteers, donations and grants to support the program. Camp Noah will serve more than 3,000 children this summer.

Camp Noah was created by LSSM following the Midwest floods in 1997. The project is sponsored by LSSM with funding from volunteer teams, private donations and a grant from Church World Service (CWS). The ELCA participates in the ministry of CWS.

Camp Noah is open to any child in kindergarten through sixth grade who has been through a disaster. Children are welcome to participate regardless of their faith tradition.