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By Staff

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC)- A camp for kids who have survived the unthinkable is being held in the Mid-South.

It’s a camp that seeks to give those kids their childhood back.

“Camp Hope” helps these children cope with the trauma they have experienced and live positive lives.

The summer camp is free and each child has a story to share. But, there’s one thing each of them can relate to – some kind of trauma and grief.

“We give them hope to push past adversity,” camp counselor Shanell Matthews said.

The inaugural camp had 30 kids this week and each of them has been exposed to some kind of traumatic event.

“They will help you in your feelings if you lost your family. They will tell you that it’ll be OK,” Cyla Thomas said.

Thomas’ father shot and killed her mother outside of a Whitehaven day care and hours later, he shot himself. The woman killed was also Calise Conner’s mother. Conner was also in the camp.

“I just try not to think about what happened that much and have fun,” Conner said.

For those who are part of the camp, they are working to prevent the next generation from falling into the same issues.

“If kids view or see domestic violence in the home they’re more likely to become victims or abusers,” camp organizer and counselor Mia Harvey said.

According to Harvey, there were 18,000 incidents of domestic violence in Shelby County in 2016.

“Eighty-six percent of the time, children are present in the home,” Harvey said.

For the kids in the free camp, everything from painting, rock climbing, and swimming has become a way to deal with their grief and trauma. The camp was paid for by Verizon and private donors. Organizers plan to expand the camp next year and stay in touch with the children who attended this year.