Voice of a KAA Alum

Rather than integrating socioeconomic groups through scholarships for lower-income children to attend Kanakuk Kamps, Joe White founded a subsidized, segregated set of camps for inner-city children in 1991, called Kids Across America (KAA). KAA also has allegations of abuse. One former counselor claims to have been physically abused multiple times in a crucifixion reenactment known as “Cross Talk.” Other KAA survivors have also recounted the trauma of their “Cross Talk” experiences: 


I was excited to experience crosstalk for the first time as an adult. I’ve experienced crosstalk before, along time ago as a kamper but the experience was so far from my memory by the time I saw it again.


I remember the preparations and quiet stillness of the day. I remember the work that went into it. And I also remember the sound of a human body hitting the ground and the screams that followed when the actor was being beat. I remember how I struggled to stay present and the flashbacks of watching domestic abuse from my own past. I even started to visualize someone I love getting beat half to death during this “reenactment” of the crucifixion. I watched as the actors “pretended” to beat a man. I listened and saw the horror on the kids faces while this was being performed in a arena like space in the woods. I saw children being traumatized all over again. Those kids couldn’t tell that it was an act. They yelled “stop”, “don’t hurt him” “NOO” “please stop” and even though this was supposed be acting those kids reactions was very real and very traumatizing. I eventually got up and walked away because I couldn’t hold back my emotions any longer. Nor could the kampers. I saw a few kids hyperventilating and many crying very real tears.


Kamp claims to prepare kampers for the reenactment but the truth is that unless you’re a trauma informed therapist you are ill equipped to deal with the heavy emotions that were unleashed. In my opinion the staff and leadership that has okayed this for decades has been irresponsible and inconsiderate of the reality of the trauma.

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