A Camp Like No Other
FOR ONE WEEK IN JUNE in the mountains of New Mexico, Johanne Riddick, M.S.N., B.S.N. ’75, welcomes kids ages six to 13 to Camp Colin, a retreat for children of all backgrounds including a history of abuse, neglect,and/or mental health issues. Now in its 20th year, this special place is the culmination of Riddick’s experiences as a nurse practitioner and an advocate for public health issues.
“My husband and I moved out to New Mexico a little over 20 years ago,” says Riddick. “I started doing policy development and initiating programs for New Mexico’s public and mental health, which encouraged us to develop Camp Colin in this direction.”
Near the tiny town of Peñasco, nestled on 40 acres of land owned by Riddick and her husband, Carl Struck, Camp Colin provides a wilderness experience through activities that emphasize individual and group growth, while fostering respect for diversity. Volunteers from the professional community and personal friends lend Riddick and her husband a hand to provide staffing, materials, and fiscal support.
“My work in mental health services allowed me to make connections with fellow therapists and include kids that came from situations where they might not have a healthy structure,” Riddick explains.
The camp was named after Riddick’s son, who died at the age of 19 in a car-motorcycle accident.
One of the Pueblo Indian kids initiated the discussion [of naming the camp] around year five. We always talked about how Colin would have loved the idea of the camp, and he was great with kids. It evolved into becoming the name. The memorial part of it is from the children,” recalls Riddick.
Long before moving to New Mexico, Riddick lived in California, where she considered entering the medical profession. Her former husband accepted a teaching position at the University of Miami,and a condition of his employment allowed Riddick to attend the University of Miami School of Nursing and Health Studies.
“I never doubted that it wasn’t a wise choice for me. It was a brilliant period for somebody who is naturally curious like myself. It was the beginning of the influx of Haitians and Cubans, so there was lots of training for diversity. I was able to experience a lot of different aspects of nursing,” says Riddick.
Riddick considers Camp Colin a model that others can replicate relative to their land and resources. The camp reflects her unwavering devotion to public service, proving, too, that Riddick is a role model in her own right. She is living the ideals of her field.
“Every experience of my life adds to the ability to being a better nurse,” she says.
Camp Colin54 Camino Tree Frog
Vadito, New Mexico 87579
Camp dates: June 20-27, 2010
Camp is close to full for campers, some spaces available.
New adult volunteers are welcome.