Guest post by Jo Lynn Smith, Director of E-Nini-Hassee: Outdoor Therapeutic School for Girls
Chief Jack built the house and Chief Ruth made it a home and that is exactly what E-Nini-Hassee is – a home to girls looking desperately for a place to lay their burdens down. Interestingly, in the beginning many of them do not even realize they have burdens to lie down. Chief Jack and Chief Ruth knew this however, so E-Nini-Hassee is, as it has been for more than 45 years, the same “safe place where a girl can be a girl” as it was when our founders carved out Her Sunny Road in the wilderness of Floral City.
The woods still have that smell that you struggle finding words for, but if you’ve ever smelt it, it is etched in your mind. The sun as it comes up over the meadow, the crackle of the pow-wow fire, the singing, the huddles, the laughter as well as the somber tears and the angry words as they bounce and ripple through the stand of live oak trees. These deep roots continue on.
Through the camp experience a girl is continually exposed to a variety of opportunities for her to find her passion and to dream again, the therapeutic environment that is created at camp is the foundation for change and it is the catalyst through which a girl evolves. One of the experiential components of camp is our physical fitness and nutrition module of the 3 pronged approach “Mind, Body and Spirit.” This module focuses on the aspect of a healthy body. One of the activities through which we teach is training for and participating in two 5k races, one at camp and one in the surrounding community.
On March 17th E-Nini-Hassee girls and staff participated in the St. Paddy’s Day Youth United Way 5K in Ocala, Florida. We placed 1st, 2nd and 3rd in the 16-17 year olds and 2nd and 3rd in the 14-15 year olds.
Pictures are often worth a thousand words and tell a story that can be woven by the observer. As this young lady crosses the finish line, coming in second place in her age group, there is a story here, that even she struggles putting words on. With hands held high and a smile as big as the sun, she has accomplished more than she imagined in this one small act, one small test of her endurance and preservation, one small belief that she was worthy- this will give her hope. This picture will hang on her bulletin board and she completes high school, attends college and will be tucked away in her scrape book of life.
HOW, HOW, HOW- Chief Jack and Chief Ruth- the dream is still alive.
Do you know a girl that can benefit from holistic residential therapy? Read more about Eckerd Kids’ E-Nini-Hasee and how to apply.