While the Connecting Adults and Minors through Positive Parenting (CAMPP) experience at Montana State Prison looks different during a pandemic than when the idea was originally conceived, the program is helping make valuable connections between children and their incarcerated parents.
“The goal of CAMPP is to help children cope with the challenges they face having an incarcerated parent, and to provide incarcerated fathers with a meaningful relationship with their children,” said Marisa Britton-Bostwick, education director at Montana Correctional Enterprises. “We are still working toward that goal, but because of the risk presented by COVID-19, we’re going about it virtually.”
Funded through a grant from the U.S. Department of Justice, the CAMPP curriculum provides incarcerated fathers with instruction to develop parenting skills, better understand adverse childhood experiences and more. Children — many of whom are in foster care — also receive support throughout the program to ensure positive reunification with their incarcerated parent if appropriate. Originally, CAMPP was scheduled to culminate with a counselor-led, three-day, family camp experience to be hosted on the Montana Correctional Enterprises ranch near Montana State Prison.
“We’re still proceeding with most of our activities like guided letter writing and having the fathers record books that are sent to their children,” Britton-Bostwick said. “We are also having supervised video visits with fathers and children. Some of them have never met until these visits.”
CAMPP organizers mailed curriculum boxes to participating children earlier this month, and they will have an opportunity to put the materials to use at “virtual camp” the week of Aug. 10-17, 2020. Fathers and children receive matching boxes, so they can participate in activities together, facilitating the reunification process.
The children and fathers will connect via Zoom to create vision boards, craft “All About Me Posters,” write in journals, learn how to garden (using a pot, soil, and seeds included in their curriculum boxes), and even perform in a virtual recital at the end of the week.
Fifteen families including 36 children are participating in the CAMPP program.