The Camp Community's Response to September 11: What We Did, Why We Did It, and What It Means
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The Scott Hazelcorn Memorial Children's Foundation was created in loving memory of Scott Hazelcorn, a twenty-nine-year-old bond broker who was killed in the September 11 attack on the World Trade Center. Scott and his fiancée Amy Callahan had a dream to open a summer camp for children in need. After Scott's death, Amy, along with Scott's parents Janice and Chuck Hazelcorn and his brother Eric, established the Scott Hazelcorn Memorial Children's Foundation - a nonprofit organization. This past year, the foundation ran several activities developed to help the most innocent victims of September 11 - the children who lost a parent or loved one. The major mission of the foundation was to run a free, week-long, overnight camp experience for these children - Camp Haze.
Through the generosity of the Landman family of Camp Kennybrook in Monticello, New York, that dream became a reality. Scott had been a camper at Kennybrook for five summers as a child, and when the Landman's heard about the foundation's efforts through an old camp friend of Scott's, they offered their camp from August 19 to 25, 2002, and for many summers to come.
The first Camp Haze experience was a huge success. The camp served forty-eight children who lost a parent or loved one. Half the staff was made up of Kennybrook counselors with years of camp experience who volunteered their final week of summer to the children of Camp Haze. The other half of the Camp Haze staff was made up of volunteers who lost a loved one on September 11, as well as trained therapists to meet any emotional needs of the children. All Camp Haze staff went through sensitivity training on how to handle children who have suffered a traumatic loss.
The week was filled with hugs, fun, laughter, and great events that let the children have an opportunity to smile again after such a traumatic year. The children and staff had an instant connection, and it was evident that these children needed to be away from their home environments and grieving parent and to feel safe to express their emotions. One of the themes of the camp week was that everyone was allowed to feel whatever they needed to feel at any time - free Haze hugs were always available.
There were many obstacles to overcome when trying to put together a camp for children who had been through such trauma. The two major ones were finding the children and gaining the trust of the parents. Amy Callahan, executive director of the foundation, is a certified special education teacher and social worker and has worked with children for twelve years. "I think our success came because our foundation is run by a September 11 family. It is impossible to know what this year has been like if you did not lose someone that day. Most of the families that let their children attend our program met and developed relationships with a member of our foundation."
The Scott Hazelcorn Memorial Children's Foundation is planning to host monthly activities throughout the year to keep the bond between the children going on a continuous basis. The Camp Haze program will host its second year at Camp Kennybrook from August 18 to 24, 2003, and hopes to expand the program to include one hundred children. For more information on this foundation, please visit the Web site at www.camphaze.org .
Amy Callahan, executive director, Scott Hazelcorn Memorial Children's Foundation
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Originally published in the 2003 January/February issue of Camping Magazine.