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. The first and most critical step for your children is to hear from you, the parent with whom the child(ren) are spending more of their time. It is essential for you to let your children know you believe the family needs help and that the OCB family Camp is a way to begin steps to get that help. You can confirm for them that the decision has been made and that you and they will be attending the camp. You can tell them you support efforts to help them have a more positive relationship with their other parent and that OCB Family Camp is set up to do exactly that. Tell them that you want to go and that you want them to go to take advantage of this opportunity to get the help your family needs. 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.
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” because they wear green shirts) are folks whose job it is to make you feel comfortable, safe and provide camp fun! The 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 cabin.
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 particular foods and other things you may need to make your experience as stress free and comfortable as possible.
What do “Green Shirts” do?
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.The Green Shirts come from all walks of life, many have worked at camp before. They all 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 activities involving all campers together. In the evening, the Green Shirts build the campfire as well as organize games and other traditional camp activities.
What should we leave at home?
While you may bring cell phones to camp, OCB collects all child(ten)’s cell phones and 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 the morning. After lunch, afternoons provide time for each group to do an activity, followed by an all-camp program. Also during the afternoons individual families will meet with the clinical team in different groups including parent-parent meetings, parent-child meetings or other groupings determined by the clinicians. 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 goes to their cabins with their assigned Green Shirt staff. Until bedtime, children stay up 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 predominantly vegetarian meals a day and snacks and drinks are always available. Common Ground Center (the family camp location) 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 some meat options 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. We will do our best to make sure we have it on hand. You are always welcome to request or to bring special food 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 from 4 – 6 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, except kids’ staff, are allowed in the children’s area.
What kind of organization is Overcoming Barriers?
Overcoming Barriers is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit developed to support a family systems approach to children resisting or rejecting a parent in post separation families and to promote children’s healthy relationships with both parents. 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 does the OCB Family camp do or not do?
Overcoming Barriers’ Family Camp does not assign blame or make custodial determinations (legal or physical) or child access recommendations. Our work is focused on being an intensive ”jump-start” for families to begin the process of getting beyond their enduring, conflicted patterns and venturing along a path of healing. In this way, the family and the professionals that work with them must understand that this is first small step in a commitment to change—that will have its ups and downs—and will likely take a significant amount of time.
By the time most families are referred to us, there are no easy resolutions. It is not reasonable or feasible to expect our interventions to “fix”families in less than one week. For families, or professionals, to expect a dramatically different result with a complete shift in interpersonal relationships at the end of the week is a recipe for failure. We provide tools for families as well as plan seeds for moving forward. These initial seeds or new ways of thinking will require nurturance, and commitment on the part of the parents and the involved legal and mental health professionals.
Implementation of the Overcoming Barriers’ Aftercare suggestions is integral to the camp program and part of a long-term commitment to change and necessary component for success.
The Overcoming Barriers Approach:
- Is a whole family approach that builds effective co-parenting structures which are in the child’s best interests
- Offers an alternative to ongoing litigation
- Includes psycho-education and a team of clinicians providing interventions in a safe supported environment outside the comfort zone of “home”
- Creates recreational activities that foster positive connections between family members, from parallel activities to direct engagement activities
- Provides for legal and therapeutic follow-up and aftercare as necessary components to success
Overcoming Barriers does not do custody evaluations
OCB is not an investigating or evaluating service and does 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 at Camp to reach an agreement about how to handle it as an example about ways to communicate and problem solve in the future.
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. Signing these releases of information is part of the conditions of attending camp.
- Any and all correspondence or communication with OCB post-camp should include both parents.
- If clinicians are called to testify after camp either with permission from both parents or by subpeona he or she must be compensated at their normal rate
What is included in the Summary of Interventions and Agreements that families receive at the end of Camp?
This part of the page is under construction. Please check back soon.
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. Applicants will receive a Draft copy of the Service Agreement for review if invited to move to the intake process.
How do families apply for Family Camp?