Josselyn’s therapeutic summer camp wrapped its 2023 season last week. This year marked a significant milestone as Camp Neeka expanded from Northbrook to add a second location in Waukegan and welcomed 87 children.  

Camp Neeka is an accessible and inclusive summer day camp for children of all backgrounds. Directed by trained therapists, Camp Neeka provides children ages 7-16 with the opportunity to create friendships, build self-esteem, develop communication strategies and coping skills to improve their mental health and overall well-being. 

With a focus on fostering social and emotional growth, Camp Neeka is a transformative experience for both campers and counselors.  

“One of the best things we learned is how to calm our emotions with fun activities, like the one called the anger iceberg. I try to remember this one when I’m back home and want to calm down,” said 11-year-old Natalia, who attended camp at the Waukegan location in July.  

Maggie Nash, MSW, M.Ed., Director of Mental Health Education, creates the curriculum and programming at Camp Neeka. “At the core of Camp Neeka’s mission is the commitment to provide a safe and supportive environment where kids can freely explore their emotions, develop resilience, and build lasting connections,” Nash said. “From daily check-ins to movement therapy, every element of the camp is designed purposefully to help campers flourish.”  

Returning camper Evelyn, age 13, has attended Camp Neeka for the last seven years. “My favorite part is meeting all the counselors and making new friends. This year I learned how to talk about my feelings and how I can manage them,” she said. 

In addition to participating in group therapy, art therapy, and movement therapy during the week, campers take several field trips, including therapeutic horseback riding, and visits to local farms, botanical gardens, and waterparks. 

“Camp Neeka field trips are not just a break from routine; they are fun, engaging opportunities for our campers to broaden their horizons, explore new spaces, and apply the skills they are learning,” said Nash.  

This year’s staff included 43 counselors who helped Nash to implement Camp Neeka’s curriculum and create a memorable experience for all campers. Counselors include Josselyn clinicians and therapists who have professional experience in education, psychology, and social work. 

Crisis Supervisor Meghan Rosenzweig, LCPC, helped to support campers at the Northbrook location. “It’s truly a therapeutic summer camp,” said Rosenzweig. “We’re providing support and tools and teaching our campers coping skills, while they’re making new friends, taking part in outings, and enjoying a traditional summer camp experience.”  

Shylee Saladi, a returning counselor, said her favorite part is seeing the campers’ social growth over the course of a few weeks. “It’s amazing to see the change our campers go through. I love seeing them learn new skills and start using them in such a short amount of time.”  

Robin, a 10-year-old camper at the Waukegan location summed up her experience by saying, “It changed my summer. I met a lot of other kids at camp like me and it makes me feel better about myself. I can’t wait for next year.” 

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