Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Camp Kids Can Say, `I Am Somebody'

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Camp Kids Can Say, `I Am Somebody'

Article excerpt

A summer camp that includes a trip to the county jail.

A summer camp where campers produce plays about domestic violence.

A summer camp where children bond with each other because they relate to each other's pain.

"They can see what kind of viewpoint I come from," Brooks Colleton, 11, said about his campmates. "They've dealt with these kinds of problems before."

That is what campers experience at Victim Services camp for children who are victims of violence. The camp's theme is "I am somebody," which is what Rebecca Jerido said instructors work to teach the children.

"I have friends here, friends I can trust in," said 13-year-old Jarvis Boynton. Boynton, who has lived with his mother and sisters in a home for battered women for a few weeks, said during camp he's learned to stay away from his troublebound sister.

"Let's give you the skills you need to pick up the pieces and carry on with life," said Jerido, a victim services' coordinator.

There are 45 students in the free camp that runs Mondays through Thursdays for six weeks at Kirby-Smith Middle School on Hubbard Street. Children are victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, simple battery or one of their family members has been killed.

"I think some of them are shocked when they see, at least in their minds, `Some people have it worse than we do,' " Jerido said.

Children range in age from 8 to 15 and are recruited citywide through schools and Victim Services.

"The only thing that's required is that they come and participate and follow the rules," Jerido said.

The visit to the Duval County jail last week was to teach campers what happens after someone is arrested.

"If they were a victim of sexual assault, they get to see what happens on the other side, to the perpetrator," Jerido said. "Or, if they don't deal with their victimization, they'll see where they could end up."

This is the fourth year for the summer camp. A follow-up program is held in the fall where students meet monthly to discuss issues and reinforce coping skills. Then, from August to December, individual counseling sessions can be scheduled. …

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