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Delivery Approach:
  • Group & Individual
Delivery Format:
  • In-Person
  • Virtual
  • Hybrid
Provider Requirements:
  • Licensed/Certified Professional Led
Type of Experience Addressed:
  • Domestic Violence
  • Child Abuse 
  • Sexual Abuse
  • Community Violence
  • Neglect 
  • Family Separation
  • Homicide/Familicide 
  • Substance Abusing Caregiver 
  • Criminal Victimization 
  • Verbal/Emotional abuse
  • Systemic/Interpersonal Racism
  • Historical trauma
Engagement Methods:
  • Arts Based
  • Talk-Based
  • Experiential
  • Play Based
  • Culturally Grounded
Level of Intervention:
  • Primary Prevention
  • Secondary Prevention
  • Intervention
  • Greater than 12 weeks
  • Domestic Violence Shelter
  • Family Service Agencies
  • Foster Care
  • Mental Health Setting
  • Community Based Agency
Program Details:
Type of services:

Out-of-School Time learning and group mentoring experiences for children and youth impacted by trauma (i.e. domestic violence, sexual assault, and child abuse)

Camping and mentoring experiences for children exposed to domestic violence

Program setting:

Onsite programming is made available at local Community-Based Agencies that are Affiliate chapters of Camp HOPE America, in collaboration with their community partners, and their Partner Camp (an outdoor youth development camp provider within their service area). We work with 37 different trauma-informed and hope-centered partner camps in 23 states.

Kidder Creek Camp (Etna, CA) – Kidder Creek is an adventure camp near the California/Oregon border; Camp HOPE is also developing a property on the Central California Coast near Arroyo Grande, CA (Bethel Ranch).

Length of program/number of sessions:

4-5 days or 5-6 nights of immersive overnight summer camp with an additional ongoing dosage of 1-2 hours per month on average for participants enrolled in the program. Each agency affiliated with Camp HOPE America provides a minimum of

6 days (five weeks per summer at present)

Type(s) of trauma/concerns addressed:

Children enrolled and participating in Camp HOPE America programming have experienced multiple victimizations such as sexual abuse, physical abuse, bullying, and exposure to family violence, known as polyvictimization or complex trauma.

Children exposed to domestic violence and physically and sexually abused children

Types of service providers:

Camp HOPE America Affiliates represent Family Justice Centers, Multi-Agency Centers, Child Advocacy Centers, Domestic Violence Shelters, Law-Enforcement, City and County Government and other youth and children’s Community-Based Agencies. With robust collaborative agencies our service providers include Child Trauma Specialists, Licensed Clinical Social Workers (LCSW), Case Management Workers Behavioral Management Aides, Marriage and Family Therapist Social Workers, Psychologist, Psychiatrists, Nurses, Youth Development Professionals, and more. In addition, our summer program staff and Hope Coaches (volunteer mentors) are all trained to uphold best practices from a trauma-informed and hope-centered lens.

Family Justice Center professionals; Community-based domestic violence agency professionals including child-trauma therapists and mental health professionals; youth development professionals; teen and college age youth counselors; and adult volunteers.

Additional information:

Camp HOPE America is the largest evidence-based out-of-school-time learning and mentoring program in the United States to focus on children and teens exposed to domestic violence. It started in San Diego in 2003, expanded statewide in California in 2012, and now serves 4,500 participants from 48 organizations in 25 states. Our mission is to help children impacted by trauma find pathways to hope and healing.

Camp HOPE is the first dedicated camp for children exposed to domestic violence. It started in San Diego in 2003 and has now expanded into a statewide model in California. In 2013, 375 children, youth counselors, and adult mentors participated in Camp HOPE.

Unique/Innovative Characteristics

The Camp HOPE America Program is a strengths and character-based out-of-school-time learning and mentoring model with a six-day, overnight program, and follow-up communal and group-based activities during the school year. The program focuses on three key elements: 1) “Challenge by Choice” activities, 2) affirmation and praise for developing observed character strengths (i.e. Hope, Resilience, Zest, Grit, Optimism, Self-Control, Gratitude, Social Intelligence, and Curiosity), and 3) themed, small group discussion and therapeutic-based activities focused on helping children set goals and then pursue those goals around the science of hope.

Camp HOPE America’s summer learning experience involves a 1:3 or 2:6 staff to participant model and Pathways year-round learning involves our group mentoring model with a Hope-Coach (Mentor) ratio of 1:6 and Affinity groups for children and youth to opt into.

Challenge by Choice camping model; Values-based; character trait-focused; Whitewater rafting; Ropes courses; Horses; Affirmation; Encouragement; Teens/College students serving as counselors/youth mentors; Small group discussions; Theatre elements with themed skits on bullying; what to do when parent’s fight; believing in others; believing in yourself; believing in your dreams. Adult mentor/youth counselor to camper ratio of 1 to 2.

Date Added/Updated:


Population Served

  • 6-12 (Childhood)
  • 13-17 (Adolescent)
  • 18-25 (Young Adult)
Population Language:
  • English
  • Spanish
Ethnic Racial Group:
  • Indigenous People – American Indian/Native American, Alaskan Native
  • Asian
  • Black or African American
  • Hispanic or Latino
  • Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander
  • White
  • Child and Non-abusive Parent/Caregiver
  • Child
  • Family
  • Grandparents
  • Survivor parent
  • Community
  • Foster/Adoptive Parents
Population Adaptations:
Age range of children served:

Kids enroll in year-round out-of-school-time programming beginning at the age of 7. With active participation, they remain enrolled until the age of 17. Adolescent-aged youth remain engaged with the program as summer staff counselors from 18-24 and can become a Hope Coach (Mentor) at age 24 and up.

2nd Grade – 10th Grade

Parent/adult caregiver(s) included in intervention:

Parent/Caregivers are included in a minimum of four community wide activities per year. This includes and is not limited to our Caregivers and Kids Experience hosted by each Affiliate to integrate parents into aspects of trauma-informed and hope-centered programming being made available to their child.

Some Family Justice Centers include parents in a Winter Camp weekend, but parents are not included in the summer camping experience.

Ethnic/racial and other groups served:

ALL; Predominately, Latino, African-American, Native American, and other children of color.

Specific cultural adaptations:

Native American cultural education is included in specific weeks.

Languages that service/resource is available:

English; Spanish


Theoretical basis:

Hope Theory – Using validated Children’s HOPE Index (Young, 1997; Hellman, 2012)

Outcome indicators:

The primary outcome indicators for Camp HOPE America assess children’s hope along with a sense of belonging, support and encouragement, believing they can achieve their dreams (resilience), and strength of character (e.g., Zest, Grit, Self-Control, Optimism, Gratitude, Social Intelligence, and Curiosity).

Evaluation Studies:
Evaluation Studies:

Hope Research Center, Dr. Chan Hellman and Evie M Muilenburg-Trevino, PhD, 918-660-3484 Email:

Published results:


Pilot or evaluation studies in progress:

Camp HOPE America’s 2021 National Research Report revealed statistical significance with a two-point increase in children’s hope and resilience from a pre, post, follow-up test research. The average ACE score for Camp HOPE America children over the age of 11 in 2021 was 6.14 SD = 2.64). At the national level, the average ACE score is 1.61 (Ford, et al., 2014).

HOPE Scale pre-camp 25.5/HOPE Scale post-camp 27.6.

Program replicated elsewhere:

Each year Camp HOPE America welcomes 5-6 new organizations to join our Annual Readiness Cohort. Organizations apply for participation within the cohort and participate in monthly learning group and attend immersive out-of-school time program learning experiences to discern best practice for program fidelity.

Camp HOPE Idaho developing in 2014; Camp HOPE Oklahoma slated to begin in 2015; other states are now evaluating the model

Publications about the program:

Casey Gwinn and Dr. Chan Hellman published the 2016 Camp HOPE America – California results in the peer-reviewed Child and Adolescent Social Work Journal. This is the first published research ever on the impact of camping and mentoring on children exposed to child abuse and domestic violence. Additional publications are available in the Alliance Resource Library under the File Folder Camp HOPE and on the Camp HOPE America Outcomes Page.

Rated/Reviewed by Evidence Based Registries:

This intervention was not rated by the registries/databases we reviewed.

Training & Resources

Training Language:
  • English
Training Available:
  • Yes. Online trainings available; Observation training available at Camp HOPE during summer weeks of camp in June, July, or August.
Training Details:
Training manuals/protocols:

Yes. See

Training Contact:

Casey Gwinn

John Hamilton

Program Contact

Casey Gwinn
President of Alliance for HOPE International & Founder of Camp HOPE America;

John Hamilton
National Director of Camp HOPE America;

Erica Yamaguchi
Training and Education Manager for Camp HOPE America

Jamal Stroud
Mentor and Outreach Manager for Camp HOPE America;

Alliance for Hope International
501 W. Broadway, Suite A #625
San Diego, CA 92101