Camp Hope empowers children impacted by violence and abuse

Arkansas Today

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — Summer is the time for kids to be kids.

But for those exposed to domestic violence and sexual abuse, that’s not always the case.

In its second year, Women and Children First is hosting Camp Hope for free for kids who’ve used their services.

“This is how you can load it on,” a camp counselor said helping 10-year-old Madison load her bow during archery class.

Trying something new can be scary. But for Madison, she’s will to take the risk.

She knows hitting the target is the plan, but not the sole purpose.

“I had to trust other people to help me,” Madison said.

Trust — a skill she and about 40 other kids are learning at Camp Hope this week on the Camp Aldersgate campus in Little Rock.

“You get to have like lots of swimming and conoeing and zip-lining, it’s really fun,” Madison said.

Traditional activities for kids who’ve experienced some unimaginable difficulties.

“It definitely would have helped me,” Infinity Wallace, a camp counselor said.

Wallace graduated from UA Little Rock and works at Women and Children First — where years ago she too received services after she witnessed domestic violence and sexual abuse.

She says Camp Hope is laying a foundation she wished she’d had.

“Everyday there’s something to do, everyday the kids are opening up more and more, everyday relationships are being built and everyday we’re all learning,” Wallace said.

Like 12-year-old Dillon who’s learned a few things on and off the soccer field.

“I could go back home and listen and not be disrespectful,” Dillon said.

The goal isn’t perfection, but practice, and knowing Camp Hope is a safe place to try.

“You can be more, you can do anything that you want to do,” Wallace said.

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