Darren Conway, Producer; Director; DOP, BBC Foreign News / Current Affairs / Documentaries and Sarah Svoboda, Producer, BBC North America look for opportunities to tell the story of the Camp Spirit Song campers

This summer, the Claggett Camp and Conference Center sponsored Camp Spirit Song, for children affected by the opioid epidemic. The Claggett Center partnered with the SpiritWorks Foundation to provide children an opportunity to lay down some of their heavy burdens and just be kids for a week. BBC America has produced a three-part documentary series on the opioid addiction crisis in the United States. Camp Spirit Song and the safe space created for children to have fun while surrounded by caring, compassionate staff and peers who can relate to their experiences, is featured in the third installment of the series. “Campers learn about building community as they play, worship, eat, and live together,” said Rita Yoe, programs coordinator at the Claggett Center. Watch the third installment of the BBC documentary below. Camp Spirit Song was also recently featured on BBC World Service Radio. Listen below.

The Episcopal Diocese of Maryland has a deep commitment to helping heal the opioid crisis and to caring for those suffering from addiction themselves or through those in the families and communities. Our diocese is part of Province III of The Episcopal Church, which is composed of 13 dioceses. In May 2017 Bishop Mike Klusmeyer of West Virginia established the Opioid Response Task Force of Province III of The Episcopal Church and appointed, the Rev. Dina van Klaveren (Episcopal Diocese of Maryland) as chair. Van Klaveren invited Karl Colder, special agent in charge, Washington, DC Division, Drug Enforcement Administration (retired), and member of the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia, to serve as co-chair. The task force crafted a Compassionate Response Statement to the crisis, and in March 2019 took a pilgrimage to Huntington, WV, which faces the highest death rate caused by opioid overdose in the country.   

A critical component of Camp Spirit Song is the small group portion. This summer it was led by the Rev. Jan M. Brown and taken from SpiritWorks Foundation Children of Families at Risk (CFAR) Program. Brown is the executive director of SpiritWorks Foundation, which she founded in 2005. CFAR’s curriculum is developmentally appropriate, experiential, and culturally appropriate content for children and youth grades 1-12 growing up in families with, or at risk for, alcoholism or other drug addictions.  

The program empowers children and youth to feel safe, to develop resiliency, and to be supported. Through participation in the program, children and youth will establish a social support network, develop healthy coping skills, identify and express feelings and understand the disease of addiction. Children attending Camp Spirit Song benefit from the skills taught in these sessions, which include learning about the impact of addiction on each family member and coming to terms with the losses felt as a result of addiction.

About Camp Spirit Song

Camp Spirit Song is a free summer camp experience for children grades 4-8 who are affected by the opioid addiction of a parent or other close loved one. This specialized overnight camp uses the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services program curriculum for Supportive Education for Children of Addicted Parents. Campers participate in classic camp activities: crafts, games, hiking, swimming, campfires, and more, in the supportive Christian community that defines all camps at the Claggett Center. Children are surrounded by caring and reliable adults, including recovery professionals from the SpiritWorks Foundation and trained Claggett Center summer counselors, to affirm their gifts and invite them into community, just as they are.