Instead of swimming and playing soccer at summer camp, some San Antonio kids are doing yoga, learning relaxation skills, and getting music therapy. The new Camp Wellness at the Ecumenical Center aims to teach children, who may be undergoing stress or are experiencing bullying, about the importance of their mental health and wellness.
Camp Wellness’s music therapist Elisabeth Hand has just encouraged about 20 kids to write down ways they deal with stress. Those written coping skills will turn into song lyrics to be performed later. Today the children are practicing the beat of the song with drums, castanets and wood blocks.
“Just like doctors have their surgical instruments, we have our musical instruments,” Hand says. “So here at Camp Wellness, it’s showing them how they can use music as an effective coping skill—how they can relate it to their entire body. In each of use there is an internal rhythm, and sometimes when we’re stressed or we’re feeling anxious, those rhythms can kind of get messed up. So using the music and finding those rhythms, which is what he drums are really good for helps center kids.”
Mary Beth Fisk is the CEO of the Ecumenical Center. She says it can be especially hard for some children who need help to open up to a traditional counselor through talk therapy. So Camp Wellness takes a different approach.
“So we incorporate play therapy,” Fisk says. “We incorporate writing and poetry. Our younger children this morning wrote haikus. Our older children wrote longer poems this morning and they drew a picture to match what they were trying to express.”
The free two-day camp, that's full, is taking place this week. Administrators intend to offer services again next summer.