Therapeutic camp helps teenage girls cope with drug abuse

By Kim Leoffler, Reporter
Last Updated: Sunday, October 29, 2017, 4:24 PM EDT

A camp in Citrus County is working to help at risk teenage girls get their lives back on track.

Staff members say many of the girls coming into the camp now have abused drugs and many are using harder drugs.

  • Camp E-Nini-Hassee helps at risk teens deal with drug abuse
  • Hundreds of girls have gone through the program
  • Camp director says more girls are having drug-related problems

Eckerd Connects’s Camp E-Nini-Hassee in Floral City has been open for nearly 50 years, with hundreds of girls coming through the program.

You won't find any teenagers glued to their phones at the camp. Instead, the girls are put to work and live outside. It's all part of a therapeutic program.

Juliana Skinner has been at the camp for a few months after struggling with drug use.

"The hardest part was like my brother he would smoke, or my friends they would smoke, and I'd be like 'I want to try that like I've never seen this, what is this' and so I started smoking," she said. And it just kind of progressed from smoking and I tried like pills like Xanax and it went to like K2 and all of that."

Skinner said drugs were easy to get her hands on since so many of her peers were using them.

It's a similar story for the dozens of other girls at the camp.

In fact, operations director JoLynn Smith said more and more girls nowadays are having drug-related problems.

"It was 20 or 25 years ago smoking some weed, dropping a little ecstasy now these girls they'll take anything," said Smith. "I think quick fixes are prevalent across our society. I think trying to figure out where I belong and I think substances provide that in a blink of an eye for these kids."

Smith said that's why the camp is so important. It removes any distractions and temptations from the girls so they have to focus on the underlying issues that have led to drug use.

Juliana said after just a few months she already feels more confident that she'll be able to make a change.

"I feel like I've changed a lot like I have a lot more trust in camp and I have a lot more trust in myself that when I get out I can do better," she said.

It's a unique form of therapy that helps each of the girls reach their fullest potential.

The camp is open to girls from age 12 to 18.