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Conflict Resolution Institute

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Internship Report

Kathryn Harshbarger: Court Annexed Mediation Program

"CAMP educates the public, the legal profession, and the judiciary about the value of mediation and how it effectively, efficiently, and fairly resolves conflict by providing excellent mediation services to litigants and their attorneys in the civil divisions of Denver's County and Small Claims Courts." – CAMP mission statement

From October of 2006 to May of 2007, I interned with the Court Annexed Mediation Program (CAMP), a venture of the Colorado and Denver Bar Association to provide mediation services at low or no cost to persons who are parties to civil lawsuits in the Denver County and Small Claims Courts. Lead by current co-directors Deborah Sperlak, a private practice mediator and attorney, and Patricia Whitehouse, the Director of Human Resources at Channel 9 news and CRI graduate, CAMP has flourished from into a successful reality that continues to attract new and experienced mediators from all over the Denver metro area.

CAMP became an officially sanctioned project on February 13, 2001. Operating with the consent and assistance of Denver County court Judges and Magistrates, CAMP is strictly an all-volunteer organization that receives no financial support from the CBA/DBA, and relies on very nominal fees that are collected in a small percentage of the total mediations it handles. As only the second intern for CAMP, my responsibilities were varied and challenging. I established contact with other mediation groups, recruited new mediators for CAMP, arranged for experienced mediators to co-mediate with new mediators, advised mediators of things of interest in the conflict resolution field, tracked the number of cases each mediator handled, addressed questions and concerns from current and prospective CAMP volunteers, took and distributed meeting notes, and brainstormed ideas for future CAMP initiatives. My administrative tasks, combined with actual mediation time, provided me with many invaluable lessons about mediation, conflict resolution, and the enormity of running an all-volunteer organization.

Overall, I found my experience with CAMP to be very influential and rewarding. I increased my knowledge of ADR and developed conflict resolution skills through hands-on practice with experienced mediators. Though stressful at times, I enjoyed seeing parties walk out of a tough mediation having worked out a solution together. Through the people I met, I learned a lot about the conflict resolution scene in Denver, and consider my time with CAMP a very pivotal part of my education. This internship cemented interests I already had and encouraged the expansion of others. It has helped me to better understand myself, my abilities, and my potential as a professional in the dynamic and ever-changing field of conflict resolution.