Camp Noah teaches children about resilience after the tornado | New


“Camp Noah is here to build resilience and readiness for elementary school-aged children who have been impacted by natural disasters,” said Reverend Colleen Winkler, site coordinator. The week-long Noah Camp just ended on Friday, July 15 and the kids came away all the better.

Camp Noah is a social service program that uses the story of Noah and the Storm to help elementary school students deal with their trauma. It is not, however, a vacation Bible school or evangelism program, but a research-based trauma response and resilience program. “It builds on the onset of the storm and allows children to share their tornado stories. through small groups, crafts and hobbies,” Winkler said.

Camp Noah is offered by Minnesota Lutheran Social Services, which has been creating and delivering the program for 25 years, initially only locally, but after Hurricane Katrina began offering the program nationally.

Children receive bracelets with “Noah’s wise words” every day that they can wear as encouragement:

Day one: I’m someone special.

Second day: Don’t be afraid, I’m ready.

Day 3: Brighter day ahead.

Fourth day: I have gifts and talents!

Fifth day: I have hopes and dreams!

The outpouring of support for Camp Noah has been overwhelming, both locally and nationally. “We received fleece blankets from Nazareth, Pennsylvania. We have received money from different people all over the United States, and all donations (monetary and material) that we have received locally are directly spent on the children,” Winkler said.

Although bringing the program to Marshall had its fair share of roadblocks, Winkler kept pushing. “God put him on my heart and he was with me every step of the way, even when I wanted to quit,” Winkler said. “The more I learned about it (Camp Noah), the more I knew it was good for these kids. I spoke to Leah Fondaw of Four Rivers (behavioral health) and showed her the program. To see the excitement in his eyes, from a counsellor’s perspective, I knew that was what we needed to do for these kids.

“All of the feedback Camp Noah has received from parents has been 99% positive, and the kids keep coming back,” Winkler said. “Every morning when they check in, they’re bright and ready to go.”

“You can see that they are forming friendships with others in the class and doing ‘well’. There is a brighter look on them and I can see it, it’s noticeable.

The children responded positively to the program and the parents were satisfied with the results. “I’ve heard a few stories from parents, about how they couldn’t believe how their little one reacted to the program. You see it in their smiles,” Winkler said.

Winkler also said, with great enthusiasm, that there is a possibility of additional camps in surrounding counties. The Indiana-Kentucky Senate paid half of Marshall’s Camp Noah, hoping someone else would pay the other half. The Red Cross filled this gap, and then some, generously donating money to pay for the other half of the Marshall County camp and ten more Camp Noah for other counties affected by the Dec. 10 tornadoes, including including Mayfield, Dawson Springs and parts of Tennessee and other adjoining states.

“Marshall County was the favorite, which is really cool, but there’s money for more,” Winkler said. “There are many needs in many other places. For example, Mayfield and Dawson Springs, they could also use Camp Noah.

Camp Noah has been very beneficial for children in Marshall County, and Winkler hopes other counties will plan a Camp Noah in the future, noting that “next summer isn’t too late.”

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