- Need: To help children whose family members are struggling with substance misuse.
- Intervention: A year-round program provides mentoring as well as substance use prevention education.
- Results: In 2022, Camp Mariposa served a total of 123 youth in its four rural locations in Indiana, Kentucky, Tennessee, and West Virginia. In a study, 93% of participants reported no use of any substance to get high.
The nonprofit organization Eluna created Camp
Mariposa® to support children whose family members
are struggling with substance misuse or are in recovery.
Founded in 2007, Camp Mariposa is an award-winning
addiction prevention and mentoring program with 18
locations across the U.S. The program offers weekend
camps every other month throughout the year and helps
children understand that addiction is a disease, meet
other children going through a similar experience, and
learn about coping skills and substance use prevention.
The free weekend camp sessions serve youth ages 9-12.
Youth, their families, and trained adult mentors make a
one-year commitment to the program. Program alumni (ages
13-17) can continue participating in the program as
Junior Counselors and can attend teen-specific programs
in some locations. In addition to the camp weekends, Camp
Mariposa offers fun activities for families in the months
in between camp weekends.
Of the 18 Camp Mariposa locations, four are in rural
- Bloomfield, Indiana
- Irvine, Kentucky
- Dandridge, Tennessee
- Princeton, West Virginia
Camp Mariposa is free for all participants. Campers have
access to the following services and opportunities from
trained volunteers and mental health professionals:
- Coping skills
- Creative arts activities
- Mindfulness activities like deep breathing and yoga
- Signs of Suicide, which screens campers for
depression and suicidal thoughts and teaches them how to
identify symptoms and harmful behaviors in themselves and
- Too Good for Drugs, an evidence-based substance use
- Traditional camp activities
In 2022, Camp Mariposa served a total of 123 youth in
Indiana, Kentucky, Tennessee, and West Virginia. These
youth participated as campers, Junior Counselors, and
younger family members who attended family activities. In
addition, there were 50 trained adult mentors and 50
adult family members who participated in the family
activities. In 2023, Camp Mariposa plans to open a new
location in the rural upstate region of South Carolina.
In a study of the Camp Mariposa locations in general,
participants surveyed during camp weekends reported the
following in 2022:
- 97% said there are adults they trust at Camp Mariposa
- 95% had not been involved in the juvenile justice
- 95% have made friends through this program
- 88% said they can name two self-care strategies
- 84% said they have learned a lot participating in
One of the most significant barriers in bringing Camp
Mariposa to rural communities is overcoming the stigma
around substance use disorders. Many attendees live with
grandparents and it was critical to get the adults'
buy-in so they would enroll their grandkids.
A second challenge was recruiting enough mentors. It is
critical to engage schools, churches, and other youth
service providers in order to staff the weekend camp
A third challenge in rural communities is transportation
to program activities.
Eluna partners with youth-focused organizations to bring
Camp Mariposa to communities across the country. The most
successful Camp Mariposa locations have broad community
support with multiple individuals and groups working
together to raise funding and implement the program.
Anyone interested in bringing Camp Mariposa to their
community can contact Eluna.
Eluna staff can provide more information as well as
ongoing support to assist with bringing Camp Mariposa to
Children and youth
Substance use and misuse
Indiana, Kentucky, Tennessee, West Virginia
May 14, 2020
Date updated or reviewed
August 22, 2023
Suggested citation: Rural Health Information Hub,
Camp Mariposa [online]. Rural Health Information Hub. Available at:
[Accessed 3 December 2023]
Please contact the models and innovations contact directly for the most complete and current information
about this program. Summaries of models and innovations are provided by RHIhub for your convenience. The
programs described are not endorsed by RHIhub or by the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy. Each rural
community should consider whether a particular project or approach is a good match for their community’s
needs and capacity. While it is sometimes possible to adapt program components to match your resources, keep
in mind that changes to the program design may impact results.