Family Camp FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions about our Family Camp Programs

What are the components of the Overcoming Barriers Approach?

Our approach is a whole family approach that builds effective parenting and coparenting structures which are in the child’s best interests.

  • Both parents, including the favored parent and the resisted parent must attend, because each member of the family has a role to play in any solution to move the family forward.
  • Although the family may be court ordered to attend camp, everyone involved is expected to come with an open heart and mind and the willingness to work for the best interests of the child(ren). Evidence indicates that having a healthy relationship with both parents is best for the child(ren).
  • The whole family, parents and children, are required to attend.  In our experience the problem is a shared and very complex issue.
  • Often step-parents, significant others, older siblings and even grandparents may be requested to attend if clinical intake suggests they may be having an impact on the situation.

OCB programs include psycho-education and a team of clinicians providing interventions in a safe supported environment outside the comfort zone of “home.”

  • Our mission and the focus at camp is to educate each family member about the importance of the child’s relationship with each parent and to provide more functional co-parenting connections.
  • Families work with a team of experienced clinicians in the field.
  • The mornings are spent with each family member in psycho-educational groups and afternoon interventions are tailored to the individual needs of each family, pairing family members up in parent-parent, parent-child, or whole family configurations.
  • Education focuses on cognitive processes (black and white thinking, perceptions) and problem solving skills for the children and for the parents.  Parenting skills are a primary focus for the adults as well.  Each adult receives a copy of our guide entitled Overcoming the Co-Parenting Trap: Essential Parenting Skills When a Child Resists Contact with a Parent.
  • Camp is experiential and what happens at camp provides ideas for the clinical team to work on with each family.
  • While we learn your story during intake and hear parts of it at camp we do not remain “stuck” in that story but want to open the door for a new and different story that includes both parents and children.

OCB offers an alternative to ongoing litigation.

  • A primary goal of the program is for parents to develop ways to break the cycle of litigation and agree to solve problems outside of the legal adversarial paradigm.  The emotional and financial costs of continued litigation is often a significant stressor for divorced families.
  • Some families who have attended previous camps have developed agreements at camp that have ended their involvement in the Court.
  • Our expectations and hopes for your family are to provide all family members with tools to resolve parenting concerns and begin to break down the barriers to shared parenting.  The courts are not social service providers and are limited in ways they can support you.

Programs incorporate recreational activities that foster positive connections between family members, from parallel activities to direct engagement activities.

  • These opportunities serve to increase connections in a safe and respectful way between all participants. Staff are wonderful role models and the milieu is an excellent place to practice new skills.
  • Additionally your family will meet others who also have ruptured relationships with one another. Both parents and children find comfort and hope in meeting others in similar situations.  At camp we promote the understanding that no one is all “good” or all “bad.”

Provides for legal and therapeutic follow-up and aftercare as necessary components to success.

  • At the end of camp we provide a Summary of Interventions and Agreements (see description below) which may include suggestions for your family to move forward.
  • The Summary of Interventions and Agreements document is approved by and signed by all parties [child(ren) may or may not sign depending on relevant content] as it is based on agreements reached at camp. Children are encouraged to sign child-centered agreements.
  • Sometimes the agreements reached at Camp are profound positive deviations from previous arrangements, while others, although no less important, may be baby steps to parents working together in a different way in the best interest of their child(ren).
  • In addition to agreements, OCB offers suggestions on post camp support for your family, which may include a Parent Coordinator, therapy for individual family members or family therapy.
  • This document can serve as a template from which the court can follow the progress made within the family.
  • Clinicians can be called to testify after camp with permission from both parents or (by subpeona) but will need to be compensated at their normal rate

Does Overcoming Barriers do custody evaluations?

We are not an investigating or evaluating service and do not provide reports or recommendations about custody or access.

If there are acute parenting time issues, i.e. an upcoming vacation, the clinical team may work with the family to reach an agreement about how to handle it as an example about ways to communicate and problem solve in the future.  If we cannot help parents reach agreements on acute issues we do not make recommendations.

What happens after Camp?

  • Our clinical team will provide up to two hours time to speak to professionals involved with your case as part of the camp program services.
  • Any time beyond the two hours will be billed at the hourly rate for your assigned Lead Clinician.
  • Consent forms permitting the release of information will be required from both parents to share any information about program participation.
  • Any and all correspondence or communication with OCB post-camp should include both parents.

My children are worried about coming to Camp and seeing their other parent.  What should I tell them?

All of the staff at OCB are aware that camp may be stressful or an uncomfortable situation for some participants.  Our goal is to welcome everyone and provide a safe and secure space for you all to do the work of repairing the divide in your family.  You should explain to your child(ren) that everyone involved wants to help them and that you, as their parents, are hopeful that some change can occur to allow the children to engage with both parents in a healthy manner in the future.  Please visit the OCB Camp Memories Kid’s Page, which is a separate site intended for kids.

What will happen when we arrive?

You will be greeted by the smiling faces of our camp staff ready to meet your family and welcome you.  The recreational staff (lovingly called “Green Shirts”) are folks whose job it is to make you feel comfortable, safe and provide camp fun!  And boy, are they good at it!  These Green Shirts will escort your children to their cabin.  It is important to pack each child’s possessions separately as they will sleep in the designated kids’ area with the other children.  The boys and the girls will be in separate cabins with two staff persons in each one.

What should we bring to camp?

We will be sending you a camper packet about what to bring and what to leave at home.   We also have a phone conversation with each adult camper prior to camp to be sure everyone knows what to bring and to be sure we can have food and other things you may need to make your experience as stress free and comfortable as possible.

Who/what are “Green Shirts”

Each group of campers have assigned staff who run activities, sleep in gender segregated cabins with them and act as facilitators for you, the participants.  Get introduced to a few of our Green Shirts here on the OCB Camp Memories Kid’s Page.

They come from all walks of life, many have worked at camp before and they have a strong desire to support your family.

During the day, they run the many games and activities like Crazy Kickball, clay, arts and crafts, water balloon volleyball and more – lots of fun stuff to do!

For many of these activities, campers remain in their assigned groups and for others, especially as the week progresses, there are all camp activities.  In the evening, the Green Shirts lead the campfire, games and other traditional camp activities.

When you say the adults have staff also, what do you mean?

We will have enough staff available for kid and adult campers to feel safe and supported at all times.  We always want everyone to feel a part of the camp.  With plenty of staff around, each camper has a buddy. The adult Green Shirts sleep in gender-segregated cabins with the adults.   They escort campers at night and team up with them to facilitate their days.  They also plan and lead activities for the adults and participate in all of the camp fun.

What should we leave at home?

While you may bring cell phones to camp, children are not allowed access to them during camp.  Adults may use their phones at specific times.  We do not allow any other technology, including computer use, during camp.  We are committed to working hard and making the most of time at camp.  In order to focus on the task at hand, we require folks to leave their outside distractions at home.

If you do bring valuables to camp, we have a space to keep them.  Please leave any valuables with us as we cannot be responsible for valuables left in cabins.

What will we do all day?  Is there a schedule?

There is a skeleton schedule that gets revised each day depending on the needs of the campers.  These needs are determined by the clinical team.  In general, after breakfast, the participants are divided into their morning groups – East or West for parents and Common Ground for the kids.  You will have a snack break about half way through these groups.  Lunch follows the group meetings where the children have their own table.  The afternoons provide time for each group to do an activity, followed by an all-camp program.  At dinner and other meals seating is assigned.  Some sample evening activities are all camp games, a movie, or a campfire with s’mores.   After evening activities each group go to their cabins.  Children stay up (in their cabins) and play cards and hang out with their bunkmates and Green shirts.

We expect you to participate in the activities and give these days your best effort.

What do we eat?

Three camp style vegetarian meals a day and snacks and drinks are always available. Common Ground Center is known for its delicious vegetarian, organic and local when possible, food.  There is a salad bar available at lunch and dinner and we do offer a burger night during the week.

We work hard to accommodate all special needs and requests. If there is a special “something” that will make you or your kids happy, please let us know when we call or put it on your youth Form and we will do our best to make sure we have it on hand.  You are always welcome to bring special items that will be kept safe for you.

Food is not allowed in cabins or sleeping spaces due to pests.

Where do we sleep?

All of the cabins are relatively new and we keep them exceptionally clean.  Adults share cabins with adult Green Shirts.  We usually have five families, which means you will share a cabin with other adults and staff. The children have their own cabin area and the boys and girls are separated into cabins with two Green Shirts each.  At night there is a night watch.  No adults are allowed in the children’s area except the kids’ staff.

What is the Camp Memories Page?

Please visit the Overcoming Barriers’ kids page called Camp Memories.  Go to our website at www.overcomingbarriers.org and on the right hand side you will see the Camp Memories link (or click here to go directly).  Your child(ren) can see some of the fun things from camp last year and read comments from the kids about camp.

What kind of organization is Overcoming Barriers?

Overcoming Barriers is a 501(c)(3) non-profit developed to promote children’s healthy relationships with both parents where a child is resisting contact with one of them.  We have been developing programs and resources for families since 2008, and many people involved with the organization have been doing this work for a lot longer than that.  Besides running programs and trainings for professionals, we do a lot of work raising money to support programs and make them affordable.

What is included in the Summary of Interventions and Agreements that families receive at the end of Camp?

It is exactly what is says: a summary of interventions at Camp and any agreements that parents made at Camp.  The summary is presented to parents on the last day.  Parents have a chance to review it and make any corrections or additions.  Here are a few examples:

Clinical interventions:

  1. On the first day Dr. Z intervened with Jane Jr. before dinner to get her to participate in camp.
  2. Drs. Y & Z met with Jane and John for 1.0 hours to discuss mutual needs and wants from the other.

Agreements:

  1. Parents met with child and acknowledged their delight at child overcoming his initial resistance to involvement with the camp program.
  2. Jane will provide a written log for John that includes bulleted information about schedule, activities, behaviors, appointments, etc.
  3. Parents agree to the use of a parenting coordinator to reduce inter-parental conflict, assist in implementation of the parenting plan, provide education, structure and accountability.  The PC will help the parents disengage and create a more functional parallel coparenting arrangement.  The appointment term will be no less than two years.

What is the confidentiality policy at Camp?

Overcoming Barriers follows a strict confidentiality policy with all camper information.  This means we don’t share personal information about a family with other families at Camp.  Campers can chose to share their stories with one another as they choose  Campers are not allowed to take photos or video at Camp.

What is included in the service agreement?

The service agreement covers lots of details related to Camp including confidentiality, expectations for parents and for kids, payment and refund rules, and aftercare policies.  Here are a few examples of expectations listed in the service agreement:

  1. I understand that cell phones for any child under the age of eighteen are not to be used during the Overcoming Barriers Program.  Camp staff will hold all children’s cell phones until the end of the program.  Adults may use cell phones only with permission of the camp staff and only at certain times.
  2. I understand that all camp activities will be supervised by the Overcoming Barriers Clinical Team and supported by program staff according to the needs of campers.  It is my responsibility to communicate with camp staff about my comfort and safety needs and to use the structure available at camp to get these needs met.