There are few things that the Guilford County commissioners enjoy doing each year more than welcoming and honoring the kids, counselors, and staff who make Camp HOPE a very special event each summer.

Kids who have faced similar traumatic life events are brought together for fun and comradery and to engage in activities that help them gain trust and hope, and overcome their past emotional distress.

On Thursday, Sept. 21, the Guilford County Board of Commissioners will devote part of the night’s meeting to recognizing and honoring those who made the special experience possible in 2023. Commissioner Carly Cooke will introduce a resolution recognizing Camp HOPE America and congratulating its volunteers, counselors and professionals on their “unwavering dedication and commitment to the campers through youth programming, goal setting, and life skills training.”

Guilford County’s Camp HOPE is a local affiliate of Camp HOPE America – a camping and mentoring program for kids who’ve experienced domestic violence, child abuse or other traumatic family-related issues.

The program has expanded over the years and Camp HOPE now offers a “High Adventure” camp in Pisgah National Forest for teens ages 15 to 17 in addition to its week-long Classic Camp for kids 7 to 14 in partnership with YMCA Camp Weaver in Greensboro.

This year’s total of 71 campers made it the county’s largest Camp HOPE yet.

Each year, many campers speak very highly publicly and privately of the experience and say how much it has meant to them and helped them heal.  One of the most powerful aspects of the camp comes simply from the interaction with other kids who have faced similar abuse. They learn they are not alone in what they’ve been through.

This summer, Camp HOPE had 17 young adult volunteers who served as camp counselors. That same group serves year-round as mentors to the young victims of abuse.  Together, Camp HOPE volunteers contributed over 2,800 hours for this year’s week.

The camp was also aided on by 10 professional support staff – some who get paid for the week and some who volunteer.

According to information included on the commissioners agenda for the meeting this week, “Throughout the year, youth participate in group activities with its volunteer mentors to continue building community, learning to set goals, exploring new skills, and finding pathways to healing. The week of Camp HOPE is the conclusion to a year of mentoring, and often the highlight of each camper’s year. Families report tremendous growth in their camper, such as increased confidence, better social skills, more communication, increased empathy toward others, and a stronger sense of belonging and friendship.”