Caregivers experience a ‘gift of rest’ at Hope Heals Camp

Meet the Happy Campers: The Thompson family of Jackson, Tennessee enjoyed attending Hope Heals Camp in July in Nauvoo, Alabama.

At Hope Heals Camp in Nauvoo, Alabama, caregivers experience a true “gift of rest.”

Hope Heals Camp is a week-long camp experience that offers year-round resources and rest for people who serve as caregivers to family members with disabilities, according to the Hope Heals Camp website .

Colleen Thompson of Jackson, Tenn. found out about the camp four years ago after her husband, Robert, had a stroke.  “The experience is truly a gift,” Colleen said. “A gift to not only experience a week away for free, but to have volunteers assigned to your family to allow caregivers to rest” is what makes it extra special. Thanks to sponsors and volunteers, caregivers can enjoy a vacation with their family knowing everything that they usually take care of is already handled for them.

Right after he had his stroke, Robert said that his wife’s friend told her about the camp. They have fun-filled activities lined up for the entire week, he said. There is everything from dancing to zip lining. Robert said that the best part is that his wife, Colleen and their 17-year-old daughter, Allison, are able to enjoy a spa day. Robert said that it makes him happy to know that his wife and daughter are getting a well-deserved break and are able to enjoy being pampered. The Thompsons also have a 5-year-old son, Landon. And Landon is also assigned a volunteer companion for the week.

 “As a caregiver, I could use that time to sleep, get to know others, or enjoy a variety of activities from canoeing to painting. It means so much to me to see my daughter receive this as well. It’s a week for her to just be a kid and not her daddy’s caregiver,” Colleen said. “She has connected with others who are in her shoes and has continued those relationships long after camp is over. The relationship aspect is huge. When we leave camp, we have an entire group of new friends. Friends that get what it’s like to live with disabilities…friends that are an amazing support and a huge resource. We now have friends all over the world who are living the disabled life,” she said.

“We’ve had people come from Scotland” that they’ve met at camp, Robert added. (Robert, a vocational rehabilitation client, is also a graduate of the Ready to Work program at the STAR Center.)

“The Hope Heals Camp Community has become a family to us. We couldn’t be more thankful for this experience and this connection,” Colleen said.

The Thompsons were especially grateful that they could attend camp this summer. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the camp was virtual last year. This year, they were able to resume the in-person camp experience while following COVID-19 safety guidelines.

The campers are only responsible for the cost of travel to and from the camp. However, once they arrive at camp, everything else is free. For more information about how to apply to attend the camp, visit

Katherine and Jay Wolf are the founders of Hope Heals Community. Katherine had a catastrophic stroke at the age of 26 several months after giving birth to her son. Katherine and her husband, Jay, started an online community, and shared their story to give others hope.

Please take the time to click this link Who We Are — Hope Heals to learn more and watch this inspiring Youtube video about Jay and Katherine Wolf, founders of the Hope Heals Camp.

About the Author : Wendy Mercer

NOTE: This person is a past employee or intern of the STAR Center. Their name and authorship is preserved for posterity. Wendy Mercer joined the STAR Center team in 2017. She is a job placement specialist and coordinator of the STAR Center Business Advisory Group. Wendy earned her master's degree in teaching from the University of Memphis. She received her bachelor's degree in print journalism from Clark Atlanta University. Wendy is a former special education teacher and freelance writer. Wendy is active with several community organizations. She currently serves as vice president of the Jackson Old Hickory Rotary Club.

  1. Eleanor Gaccetta November 9, 2021 at 3:46 pm - Reply

    This post was truly worthwhile to read. I wanted to say thank you for the key points you have pointed out as they are enlightening.

    • Wendy Mercer November 9, 2021 at 3:56 pm - Reply

      Thanks so much, Eleanor!

  2. Karen Prendes April 21, 2022 at 7:15 pm - Reply

    Is there a week of camp this year 2022. Last year I took my sister camping with my grandchildren it was exhausting. Everyone swore off camping because of how difficult it was for all of us.
    I would like have my sister and myself experience a real vacation where we can regroup.
    Can you help us achieve this goal?
    Karen Prendes
    Sister, direct Caregiver
    And Andrea Hillanbrand
    67 mountain Scene Drive
    Hereford, PA 18056

    • Wendy Mercer April 27, 2022 at 9:21 am - Reply

      Hi, Karen, and Andrea,

      Thanks for your interest in the Hope Heals Camp. According to the Hope Heals Camp website, registration is already closed for the 2022 camp. However, you can join their mailing list to receive updates about 2023 camp applications by visiting this link If you have more questions about the camp, feel free to email Hope Heals Camp directly at

      Hope this helps!

      Thanks again for your interest.

      Wendy Mercer
      Job Placement Specialist
      The STAR Center

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