Burlington County creating free day camp for children impacted by substance use

The Burlington County Commissioners approved the creation of a free day-camp for children impacted by the opioid addiction epidemic.

The Commissioners Board voted unanimously last month to allow the Burlington County Department of Human Services to use opioid settlement funds to create the new program, named Camp Cardinal.

The free day camp will be held from 9 AM to 4 PM on August 26 at YMCA of the Pines in Medford. It will be open exclusively for children between the ages of 7 and 14 who have experienced substance use disorders within their immediate family. The camp will provide children with a safe space to interact and participate in camp activities while also learning coping skills to build resiliency to stress, anxiety, depression and other mental illness.

The Traumatic Loss Coalition for Youth, an interactive statewide network of professionals with experience with mental health issues, suicide prevention, trauma response and resiliency enhancement will also assist with the new program.

“Substance use disorder is an illness that can be devastating to entire families. It often impacts multiple generations and can leave children vulnerable,” said Burlington County Commissioner Director Felicia Hopson, the liaison to the Department of Human Services. “A program like this one will allow children impacted by substance use to learn skills that can help them break the intergenerational cycle of addiction.”

State Senator Troy Singleton said the County program can become a model other counties or communities can replicate.

“Children are too often the hidden victims of the opioid epidemic. A program like this one can help address the wounds they suffer from a parent or sibling’s struggle with substance use,” said Senator Singleton. “I commend the Burlington County Commissioners and the Burlington County Department of Human Services for taking on this issue and creating this service for families impacted by the crisis.”

Funding for the program is expected to cover staffing, training, transportation, meals, supplies and other materials, including T-Shirts and water bottles. About 30 campers are expected.

A meet and greet for participating children and families will be held Aug. 17 from 4 PM to 6 PM at the Burlington County Human Services Building, 795 Woodlane Road in Westampton.

Families interested in the program can apply online at https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/P8NRM8Z.

The new program is part of the County’s comprehensive response to the opioid crisis still impacting the nation and the County campaign to eliminate stigma surrounding substance use and mental health conditions. By eliminating stigma, the Commissioners hope to raise awareness and encourage more residents to seek the help needed to overcome their conditions.

“Our Board passed a resolution in 2021 that declared all of Burlington County to be stigma-free and we continue to take steps to dispel misconceptions about mental illness and substance use, and to support those who are afflicted and their families,” said Hopson. “Mental illness impacts us all, including children, so it’s important we create programs like this one that can help those who are often most vulnerable.”

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