October 9th is a day my life changed forever. Many of us have days like these, the ones that are etched into our memory, the details we will never forget.
For me, it is the day my middle son, Aaron, lost his life to overdose. Serendipity has its way though, and on October 9, 2019, I heard a story on NPR about a camp program for children affected by a family member’s substance misuse. It was like Aaron sent me a message guiding me to what I needed to do next. On that day, 19 months ago, I resolved to bring Eluna’s Camp Mariposa to Indianapolis. And thanks to the work, generosity, and support of so many people, this past weekend, Overdose Lifeline held the first overnight experience at Camp Mariposa – Indianapolis: Aaron’s Place!
This experience is specially designed for children ages 9-12 affected by the substance misuse of a family member. This year-long program is completely free for each child that attends, and it is an inclusive experience. Campers don’t need to bring anything to camp, and we even have transportation stipends. They are provided with everything they need – backpacks, pjs, sleeping bags, bug spray, flashlight…everything! We accomplished this because of the support and generosity of our staff, our community, and our donors.
Did you ever go to camp as a kid? Do you remember the anticipation and excitement?! I witnessed such emotions in these beautiful, innocent children. Some had tears as the adults walked away and uncertainty set in, “who are all these people? I have never been to camp before.”
The tears and fears quickly transformed into the making of “best friends.” Friends made at ‘camp’ often remain in our lives for a long time and these Camp Mariposa – Indianapolis: Aaron’s Place campers are making very special friends.
Friends who share familiar lived experiences and know all too well the shame and confusion about the disease that has taken over their family member’s life. They are no longer alone in these feelings.
Campers played games, hiked in the woods, participated in trust exercises, wrote letters to addiction, made smores, had a dance party, and so much more. Fun is interwoven with therapeutic interventions – tears are broken up by laughter.
Camp Mariposa - Indianapolis: Aaron’s Place is already changing lives.
“I want to stay at Camp Mariposa forever!”- Camper P.
“Seth cannot stop talking about what an amazing time he had. He met many new friends and had many new experiences.” – Camper Seth’s Mom
We are looking for volunteers to help us at Eagle Creek on June 19th from 12pm-3pm as we host a fun activity for the campers and their families. If you’re interested or have questions, please reach us at email@example.com.
Our next camp weekend is July 23-25. We still have room for more campers, please share this program with a family that can benefit!
For more information visit our webpage.
Camp Mariposa – Indianapolis: Aaron’s Place Donor Roll*
Deb and Phil Smith
Ashley & Roger Duety
IUPUI – SOTA
Indiana Center for Recovery
Neil and Jo Gath
*Due to the nature of the Amazon Wishlist, it can sometimes be a challenge to link names associated with donations. Our apologies if your name has been accidentally left off this list, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org so we can update our records and personally thank you!
We’d like to give another special thanks to the following individuals who helped us create coping bags for each individual camper:
Justin Phillips, MA
Overdose Lifeline, Inc.