We're Off to Camp! Counselors Are Ready for the First Camp HOPE NJ

We’re Off to Camp!
Counselors Are Ready for the First Camp HOPE NJ

Housed on the grounds of the Fairview Lake YMCA Camp, Camp HOPE NJ will have all the typical activities of camp – swimming, archery, horseback riding, rock climbing, kayaking, canoeing, and more. But, this is no typical camp.

A program of Camp HOPE America (www.camphopeamerica. org) and the first of its kind in NJ, this camp focuses on children (ages 7 – 11) who have been exposed to domestic violence.

“This is an opportunity that my children otherwise would not get to experience,” says one mom. “The kids are so excited.”
The vision for Camp HOPE NJ is to break the inter-generational cycle of family violence by providing a safe place and opportunities for these children to develop coping mechanisms that allow them to thrive in difficult environments.

Camp HOPE involves team building activities, character trait awards, and values-based programming. The activities are designed to help the kids build resilience so they can overcome adversity and trauma. They participate in, “Challenges by Choice,” which are activities the child perceives as dangerous or risky (e.g., rock climbing, kayaking) and they discuss and reflect on “Positive Statements for the Day” such as “I am strong. I am able.”

The camp is based on the theory that resilience is the foundation of hope, and hope is what motivates individuals to achieve their goals. So as the name Camp HOPE implies, much of the emphasis with campers is on fostering hope (and having fun!). And, it’s working!

According to the Center of Applied Research for Non-Profit Organizations at the University of Oklahoma, in its first published evaluation of the Camp HOPE model, there is a significant increase in Hope in a pre-test, post-test design among campers. These are compelling results, since the Center notes in its report, “Hopeful children are less likely to have behavior problems or experience psychological distress and are more likely to succeed in school.”

“One week can have an unbelievable and significant impact on a child’s life in regards to self-esteem, emotional stability, and confidence,” remarks Amber Szuch, JBWS Director of the Children’s Program.

“We are so grateful for the generous contributions of Verizon, Page Hill Foundation, Ronald McDonald House Charities (Tri-State Chapter), and Cathy and Blake Ellman for making this possible.”