62 volunteers help to bring healing to 48 grieving kids at bereavement camp

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Alice Peek introduces Isaac, a Great White Pyrenees therapy dog, to the youngest group of Camp Nabi campers and their Big Buddy volunteers.

For the 27th year, Chesapeake Life Center took over the cabins, pavilions, docks and recreation areas of Arlington Echo Outdoor Education Center in Millersville to bring a little peace and a lot of joy to 48 grieving children.

It takes a lot of creativity and many trained volunteers to help make this annual bereavement camp for children ages 6 to 18 a success. Sixty-two people with a passion for helping kids worked from Aug. 10 to 12 and included:

  • 37 Big Buddies, adult volunteers trained to stay with one or two children for the duration of the camp to guide them through the emotional weekend.
  • 21 volunteers who were helping at the camp for the first time.
  • 9 facilitators, who met throughout 2018 to plan a safe weekend of working through loss.
  • 5 Teen Corps volunteers.
  • 2 volunteers who had attended the camp when they were children.
  • 1 Great White Pyrenees therapy dog named Isaac.

Volunteers helped in a variety of roles, including leading arts and crafts, crabbing, building and guarding camp fires, serving up barbecue, serving as camp nurses, set up and clean up and much more. There also were more than 25 individuals, organizations and businesses that helped provide the funds to make this an affordable time for families already dealing with loss.

Chesapeake Life Center Director Susan Coale said without the support of the donors and volunteers, the organization simply could not facilitate such an important weekend in the lives of hurting children. “Because people in this community decided to give of their valuable time and resources, 48 grieving kids made new friends, had some good summer fun and, most importantly, learned they were not alone in this scary part of their life’s journey,” Coale said. “For that, we are grateful beyond words for our generous donors and amazing volunteers.”

The late Betty Asplund, the founding director of what would become the Chesapeake Life Center, started Camp Nabi in 1982 so that grieving kids can learn they are not alone. With the help of this cadre of volunteers, children share their stories in a safe environment while enjoying fun camp activities. Phoenix Rising was added 10 years later to give teens the same opportunity to experience healing, but on a level they can appreciate.

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