Camp HOPE America is the first evidence-based camping and mentoring program for children exposed to trauma in the United States. Our goal is to give children and teens their childhood back and help them find a Pathway to HOPE. Our vision is to break the generational cycle of family violence by offering healing and hope to children and adults who have witnessed and been impacted by family violence.
The Oklahoma City Family Justice Center was proud to partner with Camp HOPE America to launch its inaugural camp for kids from Oklahoma City July 24-30, 2016 at the YMCA’s Camp Classen. 29 children, ages 7-11 who had witnessed domestic violence were referred to us from partner agencies to attend camp.
At Camp HOPE, we have the opportunity to use fun-filled avenues to bring HOPE into the lives of our campers. At camp we discuss important life lessons such as: forgiveness, our future is brighter than our past and that we all need each other. Daily kids learn about heroes who had overcome difficult times and chosen to do good things with their lives, despite their hardship. Children are challenged with trust exercises, team building, rock climbing, yoga and empowered with character trait awards.
By utilizing meaningful activities, we create an environment where kids feel safe, seen, encouraged, and loved.
While it is mostly fun and games (which we love!), we also use an evidence- and values-based curriculum that teaches campers to believe in themselves, in others, and in their dreams. During cabin small group time, campers are learning about various figures (either historical or present-day) that have overcome adversity and exhibited positive character traits. Campers are challenged to see self-application and are led in a cabin discussion with peers based around a statement of empowerment like “I am becoming my best self.” This time creates a meaningful bond within each cabin and also ensures a safe place to process past experiences and dream about a brighter future. The day always ends with a campfire where campers and counselors sing silly songs, discuss the story and statement of the day, answer the question, “Where did you see HOPE today?” Campers then receive character trait awards, and sing the Camp HOPE Goodnight Song.
Camp Can Change the Future for Hurting Kids
Camp kids are at a critical crossroads in their lives: soon their small bodies will grow and they could potentially use them to hurt others. Statistically, 78% of kids from violent homes will grow up and hurt their partner(s) and/or children. If they don’t have a positive intervention and learn alternatives to violence, their futures could be very dark and destructive. Thankfully, Camp HOPE helps kids change how this story ends and breaks the cycle of generational violence. With healthy role modeling, learning the power of choices and ongoing family support, these children’s futures are undoubtedly brighter than their past.
As one 11 year old camper said, “This is the first time I’ve ever felt safe.”
Camp HOPE has a profound impact on everyone. Our first camp vetted and trained 13 college aged counselors and 6 adult staff who volunteered an entire week (almost 150 hours each!) to help trauma exposed kids. Counselors described it as: “magical”, “transformative” and “the most amazing experience of my life”.
We’re looking for Camp Counselors for 2017!
Join our team! If you are interested in becoming a camp counselor, please contact the Kid’s HOPE Coordinator at 405-552-1006 and complete a Volunteer Application.