40 Years Alaskan

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Camp Hope: changing children's lives


Imagine you’re on the Kenai River fishing and camping with your family. Your tent is set up with all of your provisions for the weekend, you have gathered fire wood and can’t wait to roast marshmallows.

Suddenly you are under a bear attack, your brain sends a signal to your pituitary, which sends a signal to your adrenal gland that says, "Release stress hormones! And so your heart starts to pound, your pupils dilate, your airways open up, and you are ready to either fight that bear or run from the bear. And that is wonderful if you're in a forest and there's a bear… But the problem is what happens when the bear comes home every night, and this system is activated over and over and over again, and it goes from being adaptive, or life-saving, to health-damaging. Children are especially sensitive to this repeated stress situations because their brains and bodies are just developing. Children being raised by addicted parents can experience this kind of stress every day.

Volunteers of America Alaska’s Project Hope consists of two Camp Hope overnight camps, three reunion meetings and a full time intervention and prevention counselor. Camp Hope serves children (ages 7-11) and (12-14) of alcoholic or addicted parents. The camp is held at LaVerne Griffin Youth Recreation. This camp has been designed to meet the specific needs these children have as a result of their parents’ addictions by teaching them life skills, as well as, providing them with a safe, fun camp experience. The camp is 6 days and 5 nights providing group and individual interaction that can be life changing for these children. Children are taught how to interrupt the generational cycle of addiction and learn about the defenses they can developed for emotional protection. The camp groups help the children learn healthy choices they can make to care for and keep themselves safe. It also includes the usual activities of a fun and safe summer camp experience. Activities include hiking, canoeing, fishing, paddle boats, outdoor games, with focus on healthy lifestyles to include meal planning and healthy snacks.

Dimond Center is soon to celebrate 40 years of business and the truth is that we owe it completely to our visitors from all over Alaska, you have kept our doors open all these years. Thank you. As a way to give back and to show our gratitude we're supporting four charities. This month it is Volunteers of America of Alaska's Camp Hope, to which we are donating $5,000.

You can also help send more of these children to Camp Hope, for more information contact nickis@voaak.org or www.voaak.org