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Camp Noah to help local kids deal with negative experiences

Thursday, June 19, 2014 - Updated: 8:00 AM


C-S-E Editor

FORT PLAIN -- For the first time, Camp Noah will take place at the Reformed Church of Fort Plain from August 18-22, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. each day. The camp aims to provide healing opportunities for kids who have experienced trauma, including last year's flood, although it is open to anyone ranging in age from first grade through those entering seventh grade this fall.

"It's never been held in upstate New York before," said Site Coordinator and Pastor Zach Labagh of Camp Noah, noting that the need was obvious in the months following last summer's flood. He explained that he's heard the stories of local kids witnessing the disaster and cleanup -- kids who are now anxious every time it rains, for instance.

Labagh said he reached out to local school psychologists, who informed him that there's a great need for such a camp in the local area.

Camp Noah, he said, "is a place for the kids to be themselves and be in a fun environment where they learn to build resiliency skills" through play therapy, using games and fun activities to help them work through their negative experiences.

The camp, Labagh said, isn't just for flood victims. "There's a lot of trauma that children get exposed to, unfortunately, in our world today, and whether it's direct, or indirect," such as being a child of divorced parents, suffering the death of a loved one, or losing a good friend in a move; "it's for them too."

"It's a way for children to work on building resilience." It's also a preparatory event, he explained, stating, "It's not 'if' a traumatic event or disaster will occur, but when."

Camp Noah, "will educate children in hopes that we can help them better get through the next disaster."

The camp provides daily breakfast, lunch and two snacks, along with Lutheran Social Services of Minnesota trained staff. The staff undergoes extensive training and background checks, said Labagh, "to make sure this is a safe environment for these children to allow their feelings and emotions to come out."

There is also a local mental health professional on hand the entire week, who will help parents and guardians secure further local resources, if necessary.

Currently, kids are signed up from Canajoharie, Fort Plain, Nelliston, Palatine Bridge and Little Falls, as Labagh said "the region is pretty broad." Transportation should be provided, if possible, although the program is able to provide transportation if necessary.

The camp, which can facilitate 50, is free for attendees, who will be provided a go-bag, filled with preparedness items, along with a fleece blanket.

In the case of a future disaster, the go bag can prove very useful, said LaBagh, explaining, "if they have to go, they grab their bag and they're ready." Camp Noah also replaces items kids may have lost in the flood, including scissors and crayons.

Camp Noah has recently been receiving donations from local organizations and churches, and 3/4 of the money necessary to facilitate the program's 50 attendees has been collected. Labagh said that donations are still being taken. To donate, or to find out how to sign up for Camp Noah, contact Labagh at, or call (518) 673-2224.


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