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Traumatized Children Find Healing at Camp BRAVEHEART

Abuse is difficult enough to handle as an adult. The confusion, fear, and trauma associated with it can become overwhelming.

Yet, it’s even harder to process as a child—when your ability to handle emotions is still developing and your understanding of the world is limited.

That’s why Merryman House is hosting its third annual Camp BRAVEHEART this summer. Held at our crisis center, the day camp is designed to help children who have suffered domestic violence or other forms of abuse or who have experienced hardships associated with foster care and orphanage-rearing.

During camp, caregivers trained in Trust-Based Relational Intervention act as “buddies” for 20 boys and girls, ages 6 to 9, and help them deal with complex development, psychological, and behavior issues that stem from their trauma experiences.

Trauma is not only a first-world problem—it is a human problem, and one that needs our immediate attention.

Dr. Brame Thomas spends five days at our camp each summer, guiding children through activities that help teach life-skills and tools for regulating emotions and behavior. She also helps them learn sensory integration in a play space equipped with items to encourage sensory integration. The space—funded, in part, by the Downtown Kiwanis Club of Paducah—offers children access to toys and activities that help further develop the skills they learn in camp. Kids from hard places often have trouble regulating their emotions and internal states. Learning to integrate sensory input is key to helping them overcome the effects of trauma.

We can’t thank the Kiwanis enough for this room and for the genuine love the organization shows for children in need.

“This camp speaks to the heart of our mission by caring for children at an extremely important time in their lives,” Kiwanis President Mason DeJarnett tells us. “It is no doubt that the results of this camp can impact children generationally, leaving a positive mark on their future and their future families.”

Each of the young participants who experience Camp BRAVEHEART and its sensory play space also does so at no charge, thanks, in part, to the United Way of Paducah-McCracken County. The organization has generously partnered with us for the past few years to make this event available to the children who really need it. We’re so grateful to Executive Director Betsy Burkeen and her team for helping with this cause.

“When our donors chose to financially support Camp BRAVEHEART, it was pretty apparent that this camp will improve the education and mental well-being of some amazing kiddos,” Betsy explains says, explaining why United Way has helped fund the event. “Camp Braveheart is a positive investment into our future, and the United Way of Paducah-McCracken County is honored to support it.”

This camp speaks to the heart of our mission by caring for children at an extremely important time in their lives

We’re looking forward to partnering with these two wonderful organizations again for the 2019 camp. It will take place June 17-21 from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Priority registration will go to children already staying at Merryman House, and once their slots are filled, we’ll open up attendance to boys and girls associated with other organizations.

According to Mary Foley, our executive director, Merryman House plans to continue helping traumatized children heal for years to come.

“This is just the beginning,” she promises. “We have made a commitment to the children living in our emergency shelter through Camp BRAVEHEART, and we hope to offer this unique opportunity to foster care providers, adoptive parents, survivors, and other organizations in the future.”

Anyone interested in signing up for camp can register by calling us 270-443-6001.

The deadline to sign up is 6/10/2019.