Boot Camp For Kids - A Better Way - Behaviour & Trauma | Heal For Life

Your child can feel better and turn their life around

Our Kids Kamp empowers children aged 8 – 11yrs with age-appropriate knowledge and skills  to help them heal from childhood trauma or abuse and feel better about themselves.

No child wants to behave badly

Many parents come to us feeling like their only option is a “boot camp for kids”. Our approach is different to a boot camp, and it’s effective. 

Heal For Life is a place where children who have experienced trauma can find support and understanding.  We believe that no child wants to behave badly and that this happens because of unexpressed fear and anger stemming from trauma or abuse.

Childhood trauma physically affects the way our brain develops. It impacts how we think, process emotions and our behaviour.  Trauma needs to be healed, it doesn’t just go away. Children who have experienced trauma can’t just ‘get over it.’ A child behaviour boot camp might seem like the answer, but true healing comes from feeling safe and empowered.

At Kids Kamp, your child will spend the week with others who have survived similar experiences and have also decided it’s time to change. 

It is for any child who wants to behave differently, feel better about themselves and wants help to find out how to change. Heal For Life offers much more than a boot camp for kids.

Person sitting on beanbag - Heal For Life helps with child behaviour problems

Young people need to know they are not bad, weak or naughty. Rather, their behaviour is a result of the trauma they suffered. This takes the blame away and empowers the young person to change.

Symptoms of trauma can be healed

The causes of trauma are varied and may include bullying, the effects of divorce, death, illness, or abuse. Trauma may be experienced on a single occasion, or as a repeated occurrence.

Trauma can occur to your child without you knowing about it, and without your child knowing they’ve experienced trauma. It’s important to realise that what is traumatic to a child may appear ‘harmless’ to an adult.

Some symptoms that children who have experienced trauma display include:

  • Difficulty in relationships – making friends, maintaining relationships, or isolating themselves
  • Hypersensitivity – anger, fear, shame, self-hate
  • Suicidal thoughts or attempts
  • Lack of engagement with school
  • Addictions to drugs, alcohol or porn
  • Low self-esteem
  • High achiever expectations
    “I must be perfect and never am”
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Extreme outbursts of anger
Practical skills to help your child manage their emotions
During our 5-day program, your child will be encouraged to feel their feelings, and let themselves express emotions that they may not (until now) have felt safe to feel.  Learning how to identify and express difficult emotions is the key to a child’s happiness and changing their behaviour.

During our workshops, your child will learn about self-esteem, coping mechanisms, overcoming depression and anxiety, healthy relationships and boundaries.

Safe environment with plenty of activities

Heal For Life is designed to be the safe, welcoming space every child deserves.

On our beautiful nature reserve, your child will have comfortable, secure accommodation and 24-hr supervision by qualified counsellors and volunteers.

During free time they will enjoy playing outside and, if it’s warm enough, they can swim in our large dam.


Your child will be supported by adult survivors of childhood trauma 

Our team are all survivors of childhood trauma or abuse. This is called ‘Peer Support’ and is universally-recognised as being essential for healing childhood trauma.

In contrast to a traditional boot camp for kids, our team will be able to relate to your child’s experience and support in a way that will help your child feel truly understood and safe enough to feel, express, share and heal.

Program Outline

Our 5 day kids camp is run every two months with a maximum of 8 children.

Parents and caregivers are active participants in all Heal For Life children and youth programs.
We encourage parents to clearly discuss the purpose of the healing week with their child prior to arrival.
Parents will attend the Information Session on the first day of camp and join their child for a workshop on the last day.

This is an example of the daily schedule at Kids Kamp

8.30 am


3.00 pm

Free Time

9.00 am


3.30 pm

Workshop 3

10.00 am

Labour of Love

4.30 pm

Journal Writing & Free Time

10.30 am

Workshop 1

5.00 pm


11.30 am

Free time

6.00 pm

One on One

12.30 pm


6.30 pm


2.00 pm

Workshop 2

7.30 pm

Evening Activity

Guest Experience
“I wanted to not feel frightened when I visited other people’s houses, whether they’ve got a brother or not now … I can visit without feeling frightened – I look forward to staying with friends whether they have a brother or not”
Sept 2018


Info & Logistics

Kids Kamp is run every two months.

We wish to keep our program as affordable as possible for all guests, we trust you will opt to pay the fee that best meets your financial situation.

As we receive no Government assistance for the work we do we rely on parents paying as much as they can afford to enable us to continue offering our services.

When you register for this program we will provide you with a confirmation email providing more information on what to bring.

Parents will need to buy and bring food that their child enjoys, including fresh fruit and vegetables.

The food will be prepared and cooked by volunteers with the children’s help.

Further details about what to bring will be provided upon registration.

The following fee covers the progam and 5 nights of shared accommodation in the Hunter Valley, NSW.

The cost of the workshop is $1500 including accommodation.

When we receive your application, we will confirm your registration by calling you to process your payment via credit card over the phone.

If service is paying for their client to attend the program cost is $2000.

We don’t want your child to miss out on the opportunity to heal because of financial difficulties. If you cannot afford Option 1, please call the office and ask to speak to Donna.  She will organise a payment plan that works for you.  We want to find a way to ensure every child in need is helped.

We ask that all our guests agree to some key safety principles so we can keep ourselves and one another safe. Apart from that, the only requirement is that children want to come and want to change and heal. It’s also important children agree to try all the activities and workshops.

Usually, yes. Depending on the number of guests on your child’s week they may share a room with one other guest or
have the room to themselves. They will be spending the week at Hennessy House. 

Our healing centre is situated on 340 acres of bushland. 50 acres is exclusively for youth programs. We are 20 minutes out of Cessnock in the Hunter Valley at the foot of the Watagans Mountain Range.

In Hennessy House, there is a main lounge/kitchen/dining room in the middle. The team will sleep at one end of the house and the guests will sleep at the other. Two Peer Support Volunteers will sleep in the team area to help your child if they need anything throughout the night.

Your child will be staying at Hennessy House with other young people and a team. We have swings, a sandpit, an anger pit, a boxing bag, The “Barn” (a space for workshops and creativity), paddocks with horses, and access to a dam.

No. Kids Kamp is a residential healing program created to help children recover from trauma. For kids who have experienced trauma, a rigid or punitive program won’t help heal the underlying changes to the brain caused by trauma, and could unfortunately traumatise them further.

Yes, however if your child would like time on their own, that is okay too. Our program recognises that we need safety and community to heal, we cannot heal in isolation. There will be times when the guests and team will participate in workshops and free time as well.

We recognise that it is completely normal to feel scared when coming to a new place away from home. It can be scary for children to address the feelings or bad things that happened too. Our support team felt similarly when they first came to Heal for Life, and they are there to support your child, 24 hours a day.

Your child needs to be willing to come to Heal For Life. If they choose to come to our program it is because they are ready to look at their emotions, understand and change their behaviour and want to find a better ways of coping when they don’t feel okay. Our counsellors are always happy to discuss any questions or concerns you or your child may have. We can also help you talk to your child about Kids Kamp so they can feel confident and hopeful about how positive the experience will be.

Depending on the individuals who attend that week, there may be workshops on safety, safe places and feelings, boundaries, visualisations (to help children connect to themselves), processing emotions, information on how trauma effects the brain, Attachment Theory, Transactional Analysis, coping mechanisms, strengths and affirmations. All workshops are age-appropriate.

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