The Foundation for Jewish Camp (FJC) recently selected the Mayerson JCC’s Camp at the J to participate in a groundbreaking initiative to enhance the mental, emotional, spiritual, and social health of its camp community. Kicking off this spring, the second cohort of the Yedid Nefesh initiative will receive financial and educational resources as well as access to a community of over sixty Jewish day and overnight camps across North America that are taking a comprehensive approach to mental health.
As part of the program, Camp at the J will receive up to $32,000 in direct funding over the course of three years. These funds will be used to hire a qualified mental health professional, provide enhanced counselor training, establish proactive wellness activity areas, and develop tools to destigmatize mental health in their broader community. FJC’s Yedid Nefesh initiative is generously funded by The Marcus Foundation.
The new wellness program called MESSH (mental, emotional, social, spiritual health), which was coined by the Association of Camp Nursing, is widely used by the Foundation of Jewish Camp.
This initiative aims to help camps think more expansively about supporting the mental, emotional, social, and spiritual health needs of all campers and staff – regardless of whether there is a specific mental illness diagnosis. This can and should be inclusive of supporting those with predetermined support needs.
“We are working to make camp a more inclusive space to allow campers to grow to be the best versions of themselves,” Camp Director Lauren Glynn said.
A youth mental health clinician, Kasey Rosswurm, LSW, will be at camp during the summer to support the campers and communicate with parents. She will work with the staff to support their mental health and to help recognize and address MESSH challenges in our campers. Rosswurm received a bachelor’s degree in social work from the University of Cincinnati and a master’s degree in social work from the University of Denver. More recently, she has worked at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center in the residential psychiatric care unit. Rosswurm is passionate about helping children, adolescents, and young adults develop social skills, life skills, and independence.
Alongside Rosswurm will be another addition to camp, Loxley. Loxley is Camp at the J’s facility dog, and she will visit campers and staff every day, helping create a positive, calm, and very friendly environment! Camp at the J is partnering with Circle Tail to bring Loxley to the J and she is trained to provide physical, social, cognitive, and emotional assistance to campers, staff and families.
“Loxley has been working with both the After School and Early Childhood School kids every day!” Glynn said. “She loves being able to join in on activities and make each of the kiddos’ days happier. Loxley has been trained to help to assist children and staff through difficult moments by lying with them. She has been such an asset and brightens everyone’s day!”
Camp at the J applications are open now. You can register here.