Camp HOPE Neb. to break the cycle of family violence through children

More than 375 people filled the ballroom at the Quality Inn and Suites on Friday night to celebrate the Rape/Domestic Abuse Program of North Platte.

The gala was the most successful the organization has had, organizers said, but their work isn’t done. During the gala, members of the nonprofit announced a new program dedicated to children who are impacted by abuse and domestic assault. Outreach/education and site coordinator Kim Patch and shelter manager Beth Gilbert were chosen as recipients of a Verizon grant to attend the inaugural Camp HOPE Institute. They will bring the experience to the community with Camp HOPE Nebraska.

For more photos of the event, click here.

Domestic violence, physical abuse and sexual abuse have a lasting, severe impact on children, research shows. Victimized kids often find themselves in unhealthy relationships as adults. Camp HOPE specializes in breaking the generational cycle of family violence by creating a pathway of hope for children who’ve been abused or who’ve witnessed domestic violence.

Camps generally range from three to five nights and consist of activities that help children learn to cope, express their emotions, build healthy relationships and take control of their future.

“It’s a service nobody really provides right now,” Patch said. “It takes kids who’ve been through a lot already to a place where they are safe, active and engaged.”

RDAP’s will be the only Camp HOPE program in Nebraska, and Patch said this program and one in Indiana will be the furthest east. RDAP is also the smallest organization with a Camp HOPE program, Patch said.

“The funders recognized that rural areas are impacted as much as more populated areas,” said Jenny Bonta, executive director at RDAP.

Campers take a pre-test, post-test and follow-up assessments, and research shows a statistically significant increase in the resilience of children who attended the camp. Camp counselors have also observed significant increases in hope, zest, grit, self-control, gratitude, curiosity and social intelligence.

The first camp for Camp HOPE Nebraska is being planned for 2017. Children ages 11-17 can attend the camp; Patch said the counselor-to-camper ratio will be about 3:1. Participants are selected through an extensive screening process that determines who would benefit the most from the program and which families would be able to be committed to it.

“We want to have family involvement,” Patch said. “We’re not saying they’re doing anything wrong. We just want the kids to be successful.”

Patch said they hope to have about 25 children at the first camp, but they’re still in the early planning phases. Cost per child is about $500, which includes lodging, food and activities — a steep price for many families, but Bonta said they won’t have to pay.

“We’ll be having fundraisers,” Bonta said.

Funds raised at Friday’s gala will primarily be used for direct services, but they did get some donations designated for Camp HOPE use that evening.

“We’ve officially got our first camper sponsored,” Bonta said.

RDAP is participating in North Platte Giving Day today at northplattegivingday.org; they hope to raise $5,000 to send the first 10 children to camp through the campaign.

“Ultimately, the goal is to have as many kids as possible go through the program and come out knowing there is hope,” Patch said. “It doesn’t matter what your life was like before, it’s what you do with it now.”

Additional fundraisers will take place in the coming months to sponsor more campers and those who would like to donate can do so at nprdap.org, by specifying Camp HOPE in the notes or by contacting RDAP at 532-0624. For more information, contact Patch at 532-0624 or kpatch@nprdap.org.

Posted: Tuesday, May 3, 2016 3:00 am | Updated: 9:58 pm, Tue May 3, 2016.