Unique Program Connects New Hampshire Campers With Incarcerated Fathers
(Concord, N.H) For three children attending Camp Spaulding in Penacook this August, activities will include traditional camping activities as well as some not-so-traditional field trips. These children, all of whom have a father who is incarcerated in a New Hampshire State Prison, will spend twelve hours over two days in prison with their dads.
The camp, the first of its kind in New Hampshire and one of just a few nationwide, is an initiative of the Family Connections Center, a collaborative effort of the Department of Corrections, UNH family studies department and Child and Family Services.
“The kids will be mixed in with other campers and will get a lot of your usual camp experiences, but they’ll also do activities with their fathers,” says Kerry Kazura, associate professor of family studies at UNH, who helped create the Family Connections Center and will be involved in the program at Camp Spaulding of Child and Family Services. Campers will visit their fathers at the New Hampshire State Prison for Men in Concord on August 21 and 23, 2012 for six hours each day.
Kristina Toth, Program Manager of the Family Connections Center, says, “The Family Connections Center is excited about collaborating with Camp Spaulding to provide this unique, first of its kind, healthy interaction for incarcerated fathers and their children. The fathers involved are anxiously preparing for this time with their children by working on a skit to perform in front of their kids and taking an additional seminar on child development,"
“It’s a great community-building activity,” says Kazura, who notes that the program is open only to inmates and families who are active members in the Family Connections Center – a self-selecting group of men who are motivated to improve their parenting skills and connections. Donations are covering all camp costs!
“Our goal is to get these fathers connected to their families, so they will get out and pay child support and emotionally support their kids,” Kazura says.
“The Children of Incarcerated Parents (CIP) program offers children the opportunity to enjoy two weeks of summer camp adventures during which they will come together with other children who are in a similar circumstance. That is one of the important things that camp provides, developing connections through common interests and shared experiences. The program also provides a unique opportunity for campers to bond with their fathers in a way that can never be experienced in the typical visiting area of the prison. We hope that through this program, the fathers will be more motivated and the campers will grow as well” says Ed Orlowski, Director of Residential Services/Camp Spaulding, Child and Family Services of New Hampshire.
Kazura, who has done research on the program, notes that its effectiveness is encouraging: The recidivism rate for offenders who completed the program while they were incarcerated was 39.5 percent, compared to the overall recidivism rate of 43.8 percent. She’s found that inmates need just 30 to 36 hours of intervention to reduce recidivism.
There’s another benefit to the program, she adds: “We see that when inmates are involved in these programs, their behavior in prison is better.” Kazura and Toth hope to expand the program next year to run a camp for mothers incarcerated at the state prison in Goffstown who are also involved in the Family Connections Center.
For more information on the Children of Incarcerated Parents summer camp program at Camp Spaulding of Child and Family Services, go to http://www.cfsnh.org/pages/programs/CampSpaulding/cip.html or http://www.nh.gov/nhdoc/fcc/.
OTHER CONTACTS: Beth Potier, UNH Media Relations, 603-862-1566, [email protected]
Kat Strange, Communications Director, Child and Family Services, 603-518-4153, Cell: 603-566-3266, [email protected]