James Madison University


Members of the JMU Counseling Program are actively volunteering in many different areas of the community. Here are a few brief descriptions of some of their activities.

Campus Camp

Each year CSI takes a leadership role in coordinating a grief camp, "Campus Camp," for local elementary and middle school students. The camp has been strongly supported by the Psychology Peer Advisors, who donate money for the event and provide many volunteers. Campus Camp is an annual service project dedicated to children ages 6-12 who are grieving a loss. School counselors at local elementary schools help identify children who are grieving losses and need more time with counselors. Many of the children have experienced the loss of a loved one or close friend within the past year. School and community counseling students volunteer to organize and facilitate a day to honor the child’s loss. This project serves the community by applying what we are learning as we help grieving children. We attend to the children’s thoughts and feelings surrounding their losses in a therapeutic manner with the hope of promoting resilience and growth. Together we use our counseling skills to organize a safe, supportive environment, compile resources for parents, and come up with non-threatening, experiential activities.

AFSP Out of the Darkness Campus Walk

On April 30th, 2011, Chi Sigma Iota hosted their first Out of the Darkness Campus Walk at the RISE Mission House on the corners of Mason and Cantrell streets. Eighty one people participated in this event, including JMU students, members of CVCA, volunteers from RISE, and members of the Harrisonburg Community. This was a very meaningful event for all of the people who attended. This was a very meaningful event for all of the people who attended. Chi Sigma Iota has worked to make this an annual community service Event.

PHOTO: JMU walkers
Walkers strolling past the JMU campus

PHOTO: Opening Ceremony
Opening Ceremony

PHOTO: Volunteers
Chi Sigma Iota Volunteers

PHOTO Volunteer group
Volunteer Group Picture

Day with the Dukes

Each fall members of Chi Sigma Iota participate in the annual Special Olympics “Day with the Dukes” event co-sponsored by Psychology Peer Advising, Chi Sigma Iota, and JMU athletics. Volunteers act as buddies, helping the Special Olympic Athletes navigate the campus, and offer encouraging support as the Olympians participate in activities with members of the JMU athletics teams. After a day filled with fun activities, the group shares a tailgate dinner then heads to the annual JMU football game to cheer on the Dukes!

PHOTO: Day with the Dukes

PHOTO: Day with the Dukes

PHOTO: Day with the Dukes

PHOTO: Day with the Dukes

Girl’s Leadership Experience Camp

JMU’s Counseling Program developed The Girls’ Leadership Experience Camp (GLEC) to help rising sixth-grade girls from low-income families develop skills related to self-acceptance and self-efficacy.  Undergraduate and graduate student volunteers under the direction of the two faculty co-leaders, Michele Kielty and Renee Staton, hosted 16 girls during the first camp in 2006 and 26 girls during the second camp in 2009. The girls were recruited by local school counselors based on their leadership ability and the likelihood that they could become successful first-generation college students. GLEC campers were given the chance to expand their personal and social skills through engaging in a five-day leadership experience involving science and technology, fitness, and teamwork exercises. The campers received training designed to develop effective interpersonal communication skills, decision-making skills, and public speaking abilities. Activities such as critiquing media images of women and creating wellness based art projects, were designed to help the girls make healthy choices and develop a deeper sense of self-respect. In addition, the girls were led through goal-setting experiences and encouraged to explore educational/career options for their future. JMU student mentors facilitated groups and encouraged the girls throughout the experience.

Follow up interviews and research showed the camp met its goals. Many of the girls reported that they learned how to better respect others’ feelings, opinions, and life choices. Most also expressed feeling more self-confident after the camp experience and shared desires to eventually attend college. The Girls’ Leadership Experience Camp therefore proved to be an effective teaching tool and meaningful community service program!

If you have any questions about the camp, please contact:
Michele Kielty at (540) 568-2553 or via email at kieltyml@jmu.edu

PHOTO: GLEC Participants

PHOTO: GLEC Participants

PHOTO: GLEC Participants

Promoting Community Resilience after Catastrophes

We are collaborating on a variety of projects to help communities to prepare for, and respond to, the psychological impact of natural disasters, acts of terrorism, and other catastrophes. We are developing training programs, procedures and materials to provide disaster preparedness, crisis intervention, community education, outreach, consultation, support, and follow-up interventions. These are components of a successful plan designed to promote community resilience and collective resolution.

Dr. Echterling