For a seventh year, the Guilford County Family Justice Center is hosting Camp HOPE America – North Carolina – a camping and mentoring program that’s a big hit every year with the kids and everyone in county government involved with the program.

The camp is for children who’ve been affected by violence and abuse, and the camp experience usually does a great deal to help them heal emotionally.

The camp’s stated goal is “to break the generational outcomes of domestic violence through team building, evidence-informed programming, and high adventure, challenge-by-choice activities.”

Each year, the camp proves to be an uplifting experience for the kids and the counselors – as well as for the Guilford County commissioners and other county officials who usually get to meet the kids at a county commissioners meeting after the fact.

This year, about 75 youths are expected to take part in the six-day, five-night sleepover camp that runs from Sunday Aug. 13 to Friday, Aug. 18 at YMCA’s Camp Weaver at 4924 Tapawingo Trail in Greensboro.

Campers were “hand-chosen” by the staff at the county’s Family Justice Center along with the center’s partner organizations.

The camp follows the guidelines of Camp HOPE America, an affiliate program of the Alliance for HOPE International.  That is, Camp HOPE focuses on three key elements:

  • “Challenge by Choice” activities (This is challenging children to set daily achievement goals by pursuing activities with perceived danger or risk – like horseback riding and sliding along zip lines – while allowing them to opt out if the challenge “creates unmanageable stress or fear.”)
  • Affirmation and Praise for developing observed character traits.
  • Themed, small group discussion and activities meant to help children set goals and then pursue those goals.

Catherine Johnson, the director of the Family Justice Center, is a big believer in the program.

“This program has proven results,” she said. “The last seven years of programming have shown positive outcomes for the young people who go to the camp and who participate in our year-round programming. It really changes the trajectory of their lives.”

She added, “Camp counselors have a tremendous impact on our camper’s experiences, and this experience is life-changing for both the camper and counselor,” Johnson said. “HOPE counselors represent youth leaders from Guilford County high schools and NC colleges and universities. They are the champions for youth attendees and aid immensely in our goal to end the cycle of violence and change the destinies of youth exposed to trauma.”

Johnson also said the camp builds self-esteem and emotional stability in the kids – and also instills confidence that can lead to life improvements such as better academic performance.

Funding for Camp HOPE is provided by corporate and community donations, and support from the Weaver Foundation and Guilford County. That means that every camper this year will participate without having to pay.