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Tuesday, September 30, 2014
Canajoharie, NY ,
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Camp Noah teaches coping techniques and resilience

Thursday, August 28, 2014 - Updated: 9:36 AM

By JOSHUA THOMAS

C-S-E Editor

FORT PLAIN -- Camp Noah, held for the first time in our area at the Fort Plain Reformed Church last Monday through Friday, aimed to build resiliency and teach coping skills to 50 attendees from Fort Plain, Little Falls, Herkimer and Schoharie.

Attendees ranged in age from first through seventh grade. The goal of the program -- which began on Monday with the kids explaining what's unique about them, and concluded on Friday with participants talking about goals and looking toward a brighter day -- is to help children cope with hard situations. Though many of the kids had lost their homes, or had been significantly affected by flooding, it wasn't a requirement for participation.

Each child was given the opportunity to talk about their individual struggle during a week that included preparedness training, conversations about feelings, envisioning of a safe place, and showing off unique talents.

Each child also created a brick, every day, for the Wall of Memories", adding the brick to show "that they're not alone," said Team Coordinator Ruth Doty, who went on to explain that Camp Noah, a program that started in 1997 in Minnesota, North Dakota, arranged and prepared for a team of twelve background checked volunteers to facilitate programs during the week-long exercise. The team chosen to run Camp Noah in Fort Plain was assembled in and travelled from Pennsylvania.

Doty said that aside from building resiliency skills, she hopes that the program's attendees would "have a chance to process what has happened to them while also having fun."

Camp Noah costs $20,000 each time a community chooses to host it. Donors, including various local congregations, businesses and individuals, came forward to issue varying amounts of money, earning enough to facilitate the program.

Many locals also volunteered their time during the event with a variety of tasks, including the donation and serving of food, working in the kitchen and supplying a  cake for the first day's birthday part, which was held not only for Noah, but for all participants.

"It's been a really cooperative grouping of the different faiths around the area," Pastor Zachary Labagh said.

"To look at these kids in here and see the effect -- it's all been worth it," Labagh continued. 

"In every child that's come through so far, we've noticed a change," whether it was significant or mild."

Doty said that while she's been part of a Camp Noah team in 7 or 8 locations, the hardest part is always the last day -- having to say goodbye to the kids she's bonded with over the course of the week.

"it's very touching," said Doty of the overall experience.

On Thursday, Assemblyman Angelo Santabarbara visited to "get a first hand look at the work they're doing."

He said, "Bringing the kids together like this -- letting them know they're not alone," helps to "build a stronger community" that's able to move on from disasters together, hand in hand.

River of Jubilee Pastor Gail Adamoschek praised the program, noting that the positive experience, while helping the kids heal, could also have the power to bond them to the church. Adamoschek noted that she's moved by the fact that Camp Noah attendees may someday "look back and say, 'I found hope in the church.'"

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