For the first time, the Guilford County Family Justice Center will host Camp HOPE, a national evidenced-based camping and mentoring program for children impacted by violence and abuse. Camp HOPE’s vision is to break the generational outcomes of domestic violence through team building, values-based programming, and high adventure, challenge-by-choice activities.
Approximately 36 youth are expected to participate in the six- day, five-night sleepover camp Aug. 13-18 at the YMCA’s Camp Weaver, 4924 Tapawingo Trail in Greensboro.
The young people were hand-chosen by the Center’s many partners. “Community partners including, social workers, law enforcement, and therapists nominated children who we thought would greatly benefit from this type of experience,” explained Catherine Johnson, GCFJC Director. “This program has proven results. Longitudinal studies have shown good outcomes for the young people who go to the camp. It really changes the trajectory of their lives.”
This is the first year that the GCFJC is hosting Camp HOPE. The camp adheres to the requirements of Camp HOPE America, which is an affiliate program of the National Family Justice Center Alliance. Guilford County was one of two FJC locations in the southeastern region of the United States selected to host Camp HOPE because of GCFJC’s partnership and emphasis on implementing strategies to reduce violence and abuse in the community.
The camp’s program focuses on three key elements: 1) “Challenge by Choice” activities; 2) Affirmation and Praise for developing observed character traits; and 3) Themed, small group discussion and activities focused on helping children set goals and then pursue those goals. Challenge by Choice refers to challenging children to set daily achievement goals by pursuing activities with perceived danger or risk (e.g., canoeing, zip line) while allowing them to opt out of the activities if the challenge creates unmanageable stress or fear.
Trained camp staff members and volunteers prove a 1:3 ratio of counselors to young people. “Camp counselors will have a tremendous impact on our camper’s experiences, and we believe this experience will be life-changing for both the camper and counselor,” said Johnson. “Camp
HOPE counselors will serve as champions for youth attendees and will aid immensely in our goal to end the cycle of violence and change the destinies of youth exposed to trauma.”
Funding for Camp HOPE was provided by the Weaver Foundation and Verizon. Greensboro was one of twelve Camp HOPE location across the nation sponsored by Verizon. As a result of the support of these two foundations along with individual contributions, all campers will participate without cost.
“The week of Camp HOPE has the potential to significantly impact a child’s life particularly in the areas of self-esteem, emotional stability, confidence, and academic performance,” said Johnson. “We are looking forward to helping these young people become healthy, confident adults.”
Johnson says that the staff of the GCFJC intends to offer Camp HOPE annually.