A Simulation Training to Prepare Camp Counselors for Working With Children at Camp HOPE America


  • Angela B. Pharris Anne & Henry Zarrow School of Social Work, University of Oklahoma https://orcid.org/0000-0003-4961-8234
  • Julie Miller-Cribbs Anne & Henry Zarrow School of Social Work, University of Oklahoma
  • Jedediah E. Bragg Anne and Henry Zarrow School of Social Work, University of Oklahoma
  • Bonni Goodwin Anne and Henry Zarrow School of Social Work, University of Oklahoma
  • Chan M. Hellman Anne and Henry Zarrow School of Social Work, University of Oklahoma




simulation, hope, camp counselor, intimate partner violence, children exposed to domestic violence


Camp has proven to be an effective positive youth development strategy for children and youth who experience trauma and adversity. However, training camp counselors who are prepared to meet the needs of trauma-exposed youth in these settings are less understood. This pilot evaluation study provides the results of a social simulation-based training for counselors who will work with children who have witnessed family violence through Camp HOPE America. Survey data (N = 76) and content analysis from video recorded training sessions in simulation that used standardized actors and scenarios from the 1st year (n = 37) were conducted. Repeated measures ANOVA results indicated statistically significant improvements from pre- to post-instruction simulation in counselors’ hope scores (p < .001); their knowledge and confidence in recognizing and reporting physical/sexual abuse, and self-harming behaviors (p < .001); as well as significant increases in their knowledge and confidence in de-escalation, preventing difficult situations, and building campers’ hope (pl < .001). Further, analysis of simulation videos suggests that camp counselors used new skils from the training during the simulation experience. Participants showed gains in knowledge, confidence, use of skills, and an overall increase in hope after completing the simulation training.

Author Biographies

Angela B. Pharris, Anne & Henry Zarrow School of Social Work, University of Oklahoma

Angela B. Pharris, MSW, PhD

Assistant Professor & Director of the Center for Child Welfare Training & Simulation, Senior Researcher Hope Research Center, The University of Oklahoma Anne and Henry Zarrow School of Social Work.

Julie Miller-Cribbs, Anne & Henry Zarrow School of Social Work, University of Oklahoma

Julie E Miller-Cribbs, MSW, PhD

Director and Oklahoma Medicaid Endowed Professor in Mental Health, The University of Oklahoma Anne and Henry Zarrow School of Social Work

Jedediah E. Bragg, Anne and Henry Zarrow School of Social Work, University of Oklahoma

Jed Bragg, MSW, PhD

Lecturer, The University of Oklahoma Anne and Henry Zarrow School of Social Work.

Bonni Goodwin, Anne and Henry Zarrow School of Social Work, University of Oklahoma

Bonni Goodwin, MSW, PhD

Research Associate, The University of Oklahoma Anne and Henry Zarrow School of Social Work

Chan M. Hellman, Anne and Henry Zarrow School of Social Work, University of Oklahoma

Chan M. Hellman, PhD

Professor & Director of Hope Research Center, The University of Oklahoma Anne and Henry Zarrow School of Social Work


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Research & Evaluation Studies