After 27 years of offering one overnight camp to help grieving children, Chesapeake Life Center held its first children’s grief day camp on the evening of June 21 and during the day June 22 on Hospice of the Chesapeake’s John & Cathy Belcher Campus in Pasadena, Maryland. Clad in tie-dyed T-shirts they designed for themselves, 29 children ages 6 to 13 took over the administrative building and wooded grounds to find a little peace and a lot of joy.
It takes a lot of creativity and many trained volunteers to help make bereavement camp a success. The team of professional social workers and counselors were joined by 25 volunteers with a passion for helping kids. They included:
- 20 adults and 5 teenagers.
- 4 volunteers who were helping at the camp for the first time.
- 8 facilitators, who met throughout the past year to plan a safe day of working through loss.
- 1 Great White Pyrenees therapy dog named Isaac.
Volunteers helped in a variety of roles, including leading arts and crafts, serving as camp nurses, set up and clean up and more. There also were more than 15 individuals, organizations and businesses that helped provide the funds to make this an affordable time for families already dealing with loss.
Though the nonprofit has changed the timing, location and number of its grief camps, the center’s director, Susan Coale, said the goal remains the same. “We want kids to understand that they are not alone,” she said. “There is a power that comes just from being together, hearing from others how they live with grief. And as it has been for nearly three decades, there will be many well-trained loving adults to help them on their path.”
The next children’s grief day camp represents another first for the center: It will be at the College Park Airport and Aviation Museum from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Aug. 17 and include activities in the museum. For details, visit https://www.hospicechesapeake.org/event/childrens-grief-day-camp-in-prince-georges-county. Another grief day camp experience is planned to take place in October in Anne Arundel County.