Jack and Ruth Eckerd were visionaries who knew that giving children an outdoor environment would help them heal. Nature has a powerful role in treatment the girls receive at E-Nini-Hassee. When I have asked current and ex-campers what they love about camp, the answer is most always…the trees, the trails, and having the birds wake them up.
There is a Stanford study published on June 29th, 2015 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, that found that people who walked for 90 minutes in a natural area, as opposed to participants who walked in a high-traffic urban setting, showed decreased activity in a region of the brain associated with a key factor in depression.
At Eckerd Connects E-Nini-Hassee, girls 12-18, diagnosed with symptoms such as depression and anxiety hike daily through the wooded trails. The campsites themselves are open air cabins located in the middle of 840 acres of trees and an outdoor wonderland.
Many of the adolescent girls who come to E-Nini-Hassee have very diverse backgrounds and may come from urban areas all over the United States. The goal is to give them a healing environment to work on themselves without the distractions of the urban setting. The phones, screen time and social media are removed from their lives so they can be girls, and learn about themselves and play. It is hard to be a teen these days, it is hard to learn to love yourself when the examples of beauty on social media can be so intimidating. When you take away those harsh distractions, and harness the healing power of natural areas, you give these girls a chance to be kids again and do the work on themselves that brought them here in the first place. I encourage you to walk in the closest greenspace, it turns out it is good for you and your mental health.