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Camp Greentree Increases Access to Mental Health Support

May 8, 2024

JSSA expands mental and behavioral health services for children in Montgomery County

After closing its doors more than 20 years ago, Camp Greentree is set to reopen this summer. While there will be some changes from the original model, the camp promises to be a place where children in need of additional emotional and behavioral support can have a traditional summer camp experience.

Camp Greentree is a partnership between JSSA and Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS). JSSA will operate the camp, providing staffing and programming with MCPS serving as a key referral partner.

“It’s been an incredible team effort,” said Joe Wilson, Senior Director of Mental Health Services at JSSA. Planning began in earnest in February, following a request from the MCPS Office of School Support and Well-Being to provide services and support to students and families over the summer.

JSSA, a health and social wellness agency serving the National Capital Region, actively works with MCPS to support students who may otherwise have limited access to mental health services. Mental health clinicians are currently embedded in 39 MCPS schools, and that number is expected to expand to 75 in the coming school year thanks to a new grant from the Maryland Community Health Resource Commission (CHRC). JSSA’s MindCraft Program provides comprehensive mental health support to students and their families, and the addition of Camp Greentree this summer builds on an already large presence in the county school community.

Camp Greentree will run July 1 to August 2 and serve children ages 5 through 12 who are experiencing homelessness in Montgomery County. The program is designed to provide opportunities for children to learn about their strengths and needs and engage in therapeutic activities, without feeling stigmatized or like they are participating in treatment.

Joe said JSSA plans to hire 16 seasonal staff to work with JSSA’s clinicians to support the camp program, which will include activities such as daily swimming, team games, arts and crafts, and field trips, as well as daily activity group therapy. With a low camper to staff ratio, Camp Greentree provides campers with additional emotional and behavioral support to meet their individualized needs, while experiencing the fun and friendship of a summer camp setting.

For this year, referrals for Camp Greentree are managed exclusively through MCPS and registration will close in mid-May.

Originally developed and operated by the Community Psychiatric Clinic, Camp Greentree opened in 1971 and served children with emotional and behavioral health needs in Montgomery County for three decades. The program was designed to meet the community’s need for a supportive summer day camp experience for children and families who experienced challenges participating in traditional camp settings. Joe is excited to be brining the camp model back to the county.

“Our hope is to develop additional funding to include referrals from other child-serving agencies in the community and to expand our capacity to serve children and adolescents across our area,” Joe said. “This program is sorely needed.”