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Moore camp offers children storm survival skills

This week, Gracie Northup and her mother, Nancy, from Joplin, Mo., volunteered at Camp Noah at the Moore First United Methodist Church in Oklahoma. The camp provides resiliency skills to children affected by disaster.
by Adam Kemp Modified: March 21, 2014 at 11:00 am •  Published: March 20, 2014

When storm sirens began to wail, Gracie Jackson joined in.

On May 22, 2011, the 12-year-old was sitting in a Joplin church when an EF5 tornado sent the roof crashing down on her and others seeking shelter in the building’s library

This week, Gracie and her mother, Nancy Northup, traveled from Missouri to the Moore First United Methodist Church to volunteer as group counselors at Camp Noah. The mission of the week-long day camp is to provide resiliency skills to elementary-age children affected by disaster.

Gracie said she benefited so much from attending Camp Noah when it came to Joplin that she knew she wanted to pay it forward to other children.

After Gracie climbed from the wreckage in Joplin, she thought she’d escaped with only minor injuries. The storm was over. She was safe. But just days later, when another storm with a potential for tornadoes popped up, the psychological damage became apparent.

“I was flipping out and crying because I was so scared it was all going to happen again,” she said. “Even after I knew we were OK, I was still anxious.”

Camp Noah, which is operated by the Lutheran Social Service of Minnesota, came to Joplin, and Northup signed her daughter up. There, Gracie shared her tornado story and listened to others tell their stories, something experts say helps build resiliency in children.

Camp Noah also provides children with backpacks filled with a first-aid kit, flashlight, coloring book, playing cards, water bottle and emergency food. Campers also learn breathing techniques to keep calm during a storm.

Now, when a storm is coming near, Gracie gets her bag, blanket and dog ready to go in case they need to take cover. Doing so helps her mentally prepare for a storm.

“Even though she had those fears, she was able to cope with it,” Northup said. “Just having a plan and knowing what to do has helped her tremendously.”

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by Adam Kemp
Enterprise Reporter
Adam Kemp is an enterprise reporter and videographer for the Oklahoman and Kemp grew up in Oklahoma City before attending Oklahoma State University. Kemp has interned for the Oklahoman, the Oklahoma Gazette and covered Oklahoma State...
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