Summer Camps Offer Healing for Hurricane Katrina's Young Survivors

The children affected by Hurricane Katrina are combatting their new fear of water and rain by splashing around in pools at summer camps set up for these young survivors.

Camp Hip Hop, in Picayune, Miss., is free and no child is turned away. It's one of the 37 camps organized by Save the Children and other organizations along the Gulf Coast, with 13,300 kids participating.

The counselors say that since the devastating storm last August, many of the children who were affected have developed a fear of water. Their therapy is a daily swim.

"We've got licensed lifeguards to help them overcome this fear," said Diane Wise at the Nicholson School Camp. "It's just overwhelming. You don't think of some of these things until you see it firsthand."

The youngest campers are given backpacks with crayons, coloring books and emergency supplies to help ease their fears. Some still live in crowded FEMA trailers, and it's taken a toll.

One child we spoke with said, "In my house, I was a lot [more] comfortable, but now that I'm living in a trailer, it's smaller and we don't have any room to play in."

One parent said that her three children have been calmer since they began attending camp.

"They fight a little less on camp days than they do on weekends. Weekends are killers," said Kristina Foss.

At the Viet summer camp in New Orleans, the children are learning needlepoint, dance and piano, activities that provide a much-needed break for some kids who say they had to grow up too quickly this year.

One child said they've "been missing out" on things.

Camp counselors meet regularly with each child and say it's heartbreaking to hear the hardships the kids have had to endure but find it heartwarming to see them finally have a little fun.

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