By Donald Eng, Trumbull Times
Beginning this week, The Center for Family Justice plans to bring a safe, healthy and fun summer camp experience to approximately 40 local children who have been adversely impacted by the generational cycles of domestic and sexual violence and child abuse.
Camp Hope Connecticut launched on June 26 as the first summer camp and mentoring program in New England for children who have experienced primary or secondary abuse and trauma.
This groundbreaking camp, which offers a clinically-proven curriculum designed to help children overcome trauma to lead more Hopeful lives, is being offered by the Center in close collaboration with the Central Connecticut Coast YMCA at two locations: Lakewood-Trumbull YMCA Camp Tepee in Monroe, and YMCA Camp Hi-Rock in the Massachusetts Berkshires.
“We are thrilled to bring this extraordinary experience to children who have experienced trauma they did not deserve,” said Debra A. Greenwood, President/CEO of CFJ. “By founding a Camp Hope in our region, we are taking an important step toward giving kids back part of the childhoods they have lost to abuse and trauma. We are also giving them Hope they can lead safer, healthier lives free of trauma and abuse in the future.”
Camp Hope Connecticut is modeled after several other Camp Hope programs which have launched throughout the United States during the past several years. The first Camp Hope opened in San Diego, Calif. in 2003.
“We are very excited about this partnership,” said Central Connecticut Coast YMCA Senior Vice President and COO Tim Bartlett. “Summer camp is an excellent way to ensure kids stay engaged socially, physically, and academically throughout the summer. In our camps, kids are in a welcoming environment where they can belong, they’re building relationships, developing character and discovering their potential.”
Clinical research has shown these fun, but therapeutic camps work; giving children who attend a greater sense of optimism and resiliency.
The Center was also recently recognized with a prestigious national award for innovation by the National Children’s Alliance for bringing Camp Hope Connecticut to children from the six communities it serves: Bridgeport, Easton, Fairfield, Monroe, Trumbull and Stratford.
To create this transformative experience, Camp Hope Connecticut depends on a close partnership with the Central Connecticut Coast YMCA, which is offering its accredited camp facilities and support from its staff.
Jessica Speer-Holmes, executive director of Camp Hi-Rock, said that besides helping children overcome their trauma, Camp Hope Connecticut will offer them a chance to enjoy the beauty of nature and the joys of summer.
“They will be going to camp in an incredibly beautiful place where they will be apart from screen time and the Internet and be with all these caring wonderful people and surrounded by nature,” she said. “For the Camp Hope kids there will also be a unique component of understanding their trauma and helping them cope with it in a very committed way through a curriculum that’s helping them overcome their experiences.”
Children will attend Camp Hope Connecticut for free, but the Center has been fundraising to cover the cost of sending the children to camp. It costs approximately $1,000 to send a camper for a week of overnight camp and $500 for a week of day camp.
“We are grateful for the financial support we have received from generous benefactors to help us bring this camp to children who will benefit from this experience,” said Greenwood. Among the benefactors who have supported Camp Hope Connecticut are Verizon Corp., which has endowed 15 camperships.
To support Camp Hope Connecticut, contact Marissa Donnelly at MDonnelly@CenterforFamilyJustice.org or at 203-334-6154 ext. 121.