Plans to establish a Canadian County Camp HOPE are in the works to provide healing to youth, who have experienced domestic violence.
The camp is a part of a nationally recognized program, Camp HOPE America, which aims to break the generational cycle of family violence by offering healing and hope to children and adults, according to the Oklahoma City Family Justice Center’s website.
“My hope is that they are able to work through the trauma they have went through and fully process it instead of hanging onto it and allowing it to continue to negatively affect their lives, as well as making friends, building a community, learning different social and coping skills … that will just kind of give them a healthy life …,” said Michelle Wilson, Canadian County Camp HOPE director.
The mentoring program and camp will be the first of its kind for county residents. Youth ages 7-17, who have experienced family violence are eligible to attend.
The children or their parents must also be currently receiving services through an associated social service program to qualify.
Wilson said the children cannot be violent, as well.
“Maybe they’ve had a situation where they’ve acted out in school or with a friend and so they kind of have some of those violent tendencies, we probably wouldn’t send them to camp just yet to allow them to work through some of that anger and process some of that trauma,” she said.
However, they would still have access to mentors.
Through the program, youth will have access to mentors, who will be between 18-24.
Wilson said the closer age range will hopefully put the children at ease, allowing a relationship to be formed. Connecting with other children at the camp will provide another source of healing, she said.
“Having other children and youth together and being able to talk about how they felt and what they’ve experienced … knowing they’re not alone is what makes this very important,” Wilson said.
There will also be licensed therapists and more adult staff at the camp to facilitate activities. The therapeutic activities range from playing basketball to having a picnic and more, Wilson said.
To her, a Camp HOPE in the county has been a long time coming, as the need is great.
Wilson has been involved with domestic violence services for children and families for 13 years at the county’s Children’s Justice Center.
Cedric Mills, who is a part of the leadership team at the center, brought Wilson on as director of Camp HOPE. The center is looking at opening the camp in El Reno sometime this summer.
Mentoring services will be housed at the center.
For more information, contact Wilson at 405-264-5559.