November 7, 2011

State of Alabama
Press Release: Mental Health, Department of

Free Event Offers Emotional Healing & Fun Weekend for Children Affected by the April Tornadoes

MONTGOMERY – An estimated 100,000 households were affected in some way by the April 27 tornadoes in Alabama. This weekend, November 12-13, some of the children affected by the tornadoes will be participating in Camp Alabama Storm. Camp Alabama Storm is a free healing camp for children ages 8-12 that will provide them with a network of peers and a refuge from worry and grief. Camp McDowell, the camp of the Episcopal Diocese of Alabama outside of Jasper, will host the event. Experts in grief and trauma issues are planning and staffing the camp.

The goal of Camp Alabama Storm is to provide a fun and relaxing safe place for campers to tell their stories, celebrate the present and look toward the future. Camp activities will help children learn to use resources for coping such as relaxation exercises, story telling, journaling, music, art and outdoor activities. Special attention will be given to the upcoming holiday season in discussions and activities planned. A list of resources for counseling and support groups will also be provided to all camp families.

The camp is the brainchild of Birmingham resident Judy Ault, a public relations professional who helped create Camp Newsong, a grief camp, at Brookwood Medical Center 15 years ago. Ault’s son is a University of Alabama student who was living one block away from 15th Street and McFarland Blvd when the tornado struck. Thankfully he survived, but as Ault saw other families struggling to pick up the pieces of their lives, it occurred to her that something similar to Camp Newsong could be beneficial for storm survivors. She shared the idea with friends and co-workers, and it soon grew into a community-driven effort in partnership with Camp McDowell, the Alabama Episcopal community, Alabama Department of Mental Health, Amelia Center, Birmingham Jewish Federation, Children’s Hospital of Alabama, Christian Service Mission, Community Grief Support Service, Hands On Birmingham, Project Rebound, St. Mary’s on the Highlands Episcopal Church, St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church and the UAB Health System.

Ault has known ADMH Commissioner Zelia Baugh since their days working at Brookwood Medical Center. When Ault reached out to Baugh for assistance with the camp, Baugh pledged the full support of ADMH and Project Rebound. ADMH initiated Project Rebound to provide counseling and assistance in the aftermath of a disaster in partnership with community organizations. It is currently serving Alabamians affected by the April tornadoes and Gulf Coast oil spill.

Project Rebound counselors have been actively spreading the word about Camp Alabama Storm in affected communities, where they have teams of counselors in the field. Project Rebound counselors will also be working at the upcoming camp and providing their expertise in crisis counseling and trauma issues. Additionally, Baugh says, “We are excited about a unique opportunity the relationship with Camp Alabama Storm will provide in furthering Project Rebound’s community counseling efforts. Counselors will be getting referral lists from Camp Alabama Storm so they can follow up with each family after the camp. This is just another way families will be touched and receive further support from Camp Alabama Storm.”

Ault, official Camp Alabama Storm organizer, says, “The theme for our November session is ‘It’s a New Day,’ and we are so excited to be hosting an event for children that will be fun, relaxing, supportive and nurturing. We plan to squeeze in as much fun as possible at camp with a drum circle, arts and crafts, hayride, bonfire, storytelling, outdoor cookout, canoeing, hiking, live music, outdoor games and more.” Ault says more than 40 children are expected at this weekend’s session. A second session is being planned for March 30-April 1, with more details coming in December. To date, volunteers have raised more than $17,000 to cover all expenses, including the children’s transportation to and from the camp, and offer this camp as a gift to the Alabama community. Tax-deductible donations are welcome and can be made to Camp McDowell online by using PayPal or by contacting Judy Ault at campalabamastorm@gmail.com.

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RESOURCES

For more information about Camp Alabama Storm, visit http://campalabamastorm.wordpress.com. In
addition, updates about the camp can be found on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Camp-
Alabama-Storm/150287401727786
and Twitter at http://twitter.com/#!/campALstorm.

Brochures and resources about grief and trauma related to the tornadoes can be found on ADMH’s website at http://www.mh.alabama.gov/COPI/TornadoCrisis.aspx.


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