LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — Summer is a great time for many kids, but, not for all.
In fact, summertime can be the worst time of the year for kids dealing with domestic violence and crisis households. The non-profit Women and Children First says domestic violence tends to escalate during the summer and they often see an influx of families come into their shelter.
WCF is now using the timeless tradition of summer camp to help connect with some of those kids who have suffered trauma. Camp Hope is the only camp in the nation solely for kids who are victims of domestic and sexual abuse. Next week it comes to Arkansas for the first time.
“It increases kids’ hope and resilience,” explained site coordinator Adri Mejia. “So that they think ‘I believe my dreams will come true’ or ‘I have a group of people who care about me.”
Activities include traditional camp pastimes like canoeing and fishing, as well as counseling for emotional support and intervention.
Mejia says Arkansas kids experience a significantly higher rate of trauma compared to kids across the country. Those kids are then far more likely to do drugs or wind up in jail, a cycle Camp Hope hopes to break.
“Kids aren’t in school, stresses from home are amplifying, so we notice an influx in our shelter,” said WCF’s Megan McBroome. “Without things like this, nothing gets better.”
It’s taken two years to make Camp Hope Arkansas a reality, and organizers hope its impact on kids will last a lifetime.
“We’re not going to let them slip through the cracks,” McBroome.
The power of Camp Hope continues even when the fun wraps up. Counselors will keep tabs on their campers as part of a year-round mentoring program to make sure they’re doing okay.