The Camp HOPE America-Bridgeport Story
Camp HOPE America-Bridgeport was launched in 2016 by The Center for Family Justice as New England’s first therapeutic summer camp and year-long mentoring program for young people ages 7-17 whose lives have been adversely impacted by the trauma of domestic or sexual violence.
Camp HOPE offers children and teens who have been the primary or secondary victims of trauma the chance to reclaim part of the childhoods they lost through a fun and transformative summertime program focused on helping them foster newfound hope and resiliency in their
Since its inception, Camp HOPE America-Bridgeport has offered this impactful program by providing more than 150 camperships and ongoing mentorship to children and teens who have experienced the devastating trauma of abuse.
This life-changing opportunity for our campers has been possible thanks to the generous support of a multitude of benefactors and partners who have enabled CFJ’s young client, as well as the clients of our community partners, to participate in the program at no cost to them.
The Camp HOPE America-Bridgeport Experience
Camp HOPE campers engage in a week of summer camp on the grounds of Camp Hi-Rock, an accredited overnight camp operated by CFJ’s partner, the Central Connecticut Coast YMCA. Beginning in 2019, our campers also engage in a year-long program which includes social activities, mentorship and opportunities to engage in community and special events.
CFJ’s team, led by Camp HOPE Coordinator & Youth Trauma Specialist Sasha Collins and Camp HOPE Director Amanda Posila, brings Camp HOPE campers to Camp Hi-Rock, set on a tranquil lake in the Massachusetts Berkshires. There, campers engage in an evidence-based curriculum while enjoying a week of traditional overnight summer camp experiences such as swimming, camp fires, hiking, sailing and navigating high-ropes courses.
The Camp HOPE curriculum employs a sensitive, trauma-informed approach to building hope, resiliency and a sense of empowerment in the young campers. This engaging curriculum, which draws on peer-to-peer interaction, is intended to help campers overcome adversity while improving their outlook for the future. It also helps our campers feel less isolated in their trauma as they bond with other young survivors.
“One of the most important things that I learned at Camp HOPE is that my past does not define my future,” said Ethan, 17, high school senior and two-time Camp HOPE alumnus.
Young people exposed to trauma have been deprived an essential part of the safety and security that should be a rite of childhood. Our campers have lost part or most of their childhoods to trauma.
An important goal of Camp HOPE is to respond to that trauma by providing our campers with some of the emotional tools they need to lead more hopeful, resilient lives free of trauma and abuse.
Addressing that trauma while our campers are still young is critical. Our goal is to help break the generational cycles of abuse by offering our campers the strength and resiliency to cope with ongoing stressors and challenges they will inevitably face in their young lives.
The Camp HOPE model works: A peer-reviewed clinical study published in the September 2016 addition of the journal Child and Adolescent Social Work found the Camp HOPE model provides a successful intervention for children exposed to trauma and domestic violence. The study focused on more than 200 children who had participated in Camp HOPE programs in Oregon and California. Researchers reported these campers left their programs with a greater sense of optimism, gratitude, , social intelligence and self-esteem. This is hope personified. Camp HOPE changed the way the children see themselves and their futures.
CFJ’s Camp HOPE program doesn’t end when the buses return. Our campers work with our team throughout the year to build on the bonds they have established with fellow campers and discuss ongoing issues in their lives. In addition, the program engages campers with CFJ and community mentors as they participate in community and educational events. The long-term goal of this ongoing interaction is to keep increasing hope in the lives of our campers, while expanding the skills they have learned to overcome adversity.
We also work with our campers and their families regularly to build on the self-esteem and sense of hope that came from their summer experiences.
Since its inception in the summer of 2016, CFJ has been proud to bring Camp HOPE to a growing number of children and teens and has offered more than 150 camperships. Program participants include young people from the communities of Bridgeport, Easton, Fairfield, Monroe, Stratford and Trumbull.
For of our campers, Camp HOPE is their first experience attending an overnight summer camp.
“At Camp HOPE, I can take a step away from reality and be myself.” Kiara, 11.
To offer the Camp HOPE experience free of charge to our deserving young clients, CFJ is grateful for donor support, including being named beneficiary of the 2019 Fairfield Christmas Tree Festival.
How Your Gift to Camp HOPE America-Connecticut can help:
- $1,000 provides a fully-funded campership for a deserving child who has experienced trauma
- $500 will underwrite the costs of providing a camper with a fully-stocked camp trunk packed with essential gear, grooming products and transportation costs
- $200 will help pay for camp activities and supplies
Volunteering at Camp HOPE
CFJ works closely with the International Alliance for Hope, which oversees a growing network of Camp HOPE America across the country, on creating new and engaging curriculums every summer.
Per those guidelines, CFJ seeks summer volunteers/interns of all gender identities between the ages of 20 and 24 who are willing to spend two weeks (2020 Dates TBD) working with our Camp HOPE professional staff and campers on the grounds of Camp Hi-Rock.
Please note: An additional ten hours of training is required before departing for Camp HOPE and our volunteers must be available for those sessions as well.
To learn more about opportunities to volunteer at Camp HOPE, please contact CFJ’s Community Relations Manager Beth Fitzpatrick at BFitzpatrick@CenterforFamilyJustice.org or CFJ’s Director of Education & Community Engagement Amanda Posila at APosila@CenterforFamilyJustice.org.
Make a donation in support of Camp HOPE by specifying Camp HOPE Bridgeport as the honoree when making a donation.