Holt-Sunny Ridge and The Ranch of Hope Reins teamed up once again in June to offer the second Journey of Hope camp!
This camp has equipped, strengthened and given adoptive families the opportunity to learn from a Trust-Based Relational Intervention (TBRI)® parenting curriculum. Adoption is a lifelong journey, and the Journey of Hope camp allows adoptees and their parents to learn new tools and strategies – specifically to help children learn self-regulation skills and deepen family attachment.
After successfully launching the camp in 2017, we took the families’ feedback to improve the camp’s structure and schedule. Parents loved training with the TBRI curriculum, but they wanted more time practicing the strategies and techniques they were learning about.
This year, we decided that the parents would be the children’s buddies! This would give them hands-on, real-time coaching and mentoring with TBRI practitioners.
We also had children and families asking for more EAGALA equine therapy – as well as more time with the horses. The staff and horses at The Ranch of Hope Reins are amazing, and they completely understood the need and request! EAGALA equine therapy fits beautifully with what we’re teaching parents and children about their bodies, responses and communication patterns. Horses are similar to humans in that they respond to us based on our energy, emotion and behavior.
“When children and families are regulated and connected, horses cooperate,” Debra Hirschberg, clinical director at The Ranch of Hope Reins, explains. “When there is not regulation and safety, horses stop cooperating. When working with horses, children and parents have the opportunity to take what they have learned and practice to create felt safety, connection and kind leadership.”
A big part of the Journey of Hope camp is teaching parents how to assist their children when they experience emotional and behavioral dysregulation.
Each family spent quality time with the horses – learning how to observe, read cues and work together to complete tasks. It wasn’t always easy, so the families had to adapt in the moment to gain trust and communicate to one another, as well as the horses.
“We often joke that horses are walking amygdalas,” Debra says. “They can teach us so much about how to maintain the calm and connected posture needed to parent hard to reach children. The horses offer a safe way to learn and practice TBRI skills.”
In any relationship, though, there will be difficult times and roadblocks to navigate around. But for the families who attended the Journey of Hope camp, they learned valuable skills, strategies and techniques to assist them during those difficult times.
By partnering with the amazing staff and horses at The Ranch of Hope Reins, the Journey of Hope camp can make a lasting impact on children and parents – making their families stronger than ever before.
And at the end of camp, one child said, “This was the best weekend of my life!” We’ll consider that as another successful year at the Journey of Hope camp!