Guest post written by Adrienne Drew, Eckerd Kids External Relations Manager.
On a recent visit to Camp E-Nini-Hassee, I had the pleasure of meeting 17 year old Emily. Emily has been a resident of E-Nini-Hassee, an outdoor therapeutic school for girls, for the past eight months. E-Nini-Hassee is specifically for adolescent girls who are having emotional or behavioral difficulties, and helps girls fully realize the potential that already exists with them.
Emily is from North Carolina, but her mother sought out this Eckerd Kids program in Florida after much research because she felt it was a true calling from God, and would best serve Emily’s needs. After spending the day with Emily and hearing her music, I believe she was right!
When Emily was 14 years old she started playing the guitar and singing. At first she was shy, but with her mother’s encouragement she pushed forward and started doing open mic nights in her home town. Unfortunately, around the same time, Emily experienced trauma in her life, fell in with the wrong crowd and turned to drugs for comfort. It took Emily’s mother four years to convince her she needed help as she was in denial, but finally she decided to give it a try. Four years and eight months later, and through the course of her treatment plan, Emily has been able to get off all the prescription and non-prescription drugs she was previously using, found her true self again and reconnected with her love for music.
Emily plays guitar and sings, she even writes all her own songs, but there is a special song she played for me called “Second Chance”. She shared with me when she writes a song her hope is for the music to speak to others and for the listeners to hear something real and be moved. In the chorus of “Second Chance”, the lyrics directly relate to what many of the girls feel and realize during camp.
I think I’ve found my Second Chance
When everyone’s away; when everyone seems gone
I think I’ve found my place to stand; when everything seems gray
I sing this song.
Emily shared that many of the girls at camp have already caught on to the song and she hears them singing it from time to time or they will ask her to sing it as they sit around the camp fire at night. Her hope is that “Second Chance” will make it into the song books at E-Nini-Hassee and future campers can sing it for years to come.
Through the curriculum at E-Nini-Hassee, Emily says her favorite thing is being in a group with other girls because you get to hear unique stories and learn basic life skills. Emily said, “If it was not for this camp, I would not be here today. Now, I know I can do it!”
E-Nini-Hassee was founded in 1969 by Jack and Ruth Eckerd as the first outdoor therapeutic program for troubled girls in the southeast. Today, it remains the most established and trusted outdoor therapeutic school for girls in all of the southeastern United States. It is also consistently identified as one of the most effective programs of its kind. For more information on E-Nini-Hassee click here.
Listen to Emily play “Second Chance” below: