Camp HOPE America operates under the leadership of Alliance for HOPE International. Alliance for HOPE International is the umbrella organization for all Family Justice Centers and similar Multi-Agency Centers serving victims of domestic violence and their children throughout the United States. Camp HOPE America began with a focus on bringing children to camp from across California, and is now developing trauma-informed camping models across the country through partnerships with Family Justice Centers and Multi-Agency Centers along with local camps.
Camp HOPE America’s 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.
Camp HOPE America has a vision to see its program develop in all 50 states, and is well on its way there! By creating intentional relationships with Centers throughout America, providing training on trauma-informed care in a camp setting, and working with local Partner Camps to build mutually beneficial partnerships, we are establishing programs in each state that are geared toward the various cultures and needs of our communities.
The Camp HOPE America Model
The Camp HOPE America model, developed by the staff of Alliance for HOPE International, is a values-based, “Challenge by Choice” program with a focus on praising children for observed and developing character traits through the course of a four to six-day program. “Challenge by Choice” refers to challenging children to try new activities and activities with perceived danger or risk while allowing them to opt out of those activities if the challenge creates unmanageable stress or fear. The camper is responsible for determining and selecting what kind of participation level presents an optimal learning opportunity for themselves. By acknowledging whether they are in their comfort, challenge, or panic zone during an activity, campers build self-awareness as well as confidence in being able to overcome challenges, choosing to step outside of their comfort zone while setting boundaries when they are beyond their challenge zone and in their panic zone.
The model also includes providing evidence-based curriculum, which features a new theme each year along with the stories of four Hope Heroes and coinciding Truth Statements. Each day at camp, Cabin Groups, made up of five to six campers and two counselors, take time to read through the story and memorize the short Truth Statement. They answer discussion questions provided in the curriculum booklets and have the opportunity to share what they learned from the Hope Hero and in what ways they saw hope for their own lives. This curriculum booklet time sets the stage for the campfire, held each evening at camp. The entire group of campers, counselors, and Adult Staff gather together as one to sing silly songs, hear a special Campfire Talk related to the Truth Statement and Hope Hero, and get to raise their hands to answer the question, "Where did you see hope today?" Hope, at all campsites and in all program activities, is defined as three things—believing in yourself, believing in others, and believing in your dreams.
Every aspect of Camp HOPE America has been designed with intentionality for the camper. Our goal is to see the generational cycle of violence end and to help children dream of a brighter future and create new pathways to reach their goals.
Partnerships Are Key
At Camp HOPE America, all recreational activities are supervised by trained camp staff members who also operate other weekly summer camps that are not focused on children exposed to family violence. Specialized program activities and other therapeutic components of camp are managed by Camp HOPE America.
Camp HOPE America also partners with the University of Oklahoma's (OU) Hope Research Center for all evaluation research. Dr. Chan Hellman leads the research team and has published national results since 2013 on the powerful impact of Camp HOPE America in changing the way youth exposed to trauma view themselves and their futures. To view the Camp HOPE America reports, click here.
For those interested in a partnership, Camp HOPE America has a formal readiness and affiliation process, which includes providing technical assistance, resources, training, and funding assistance. For more information, contact Camp HOPE America at (888) 511-3522 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.