Friday, March 23, 2012
A few weeks ago Margaret attended a bereavement camp for kids aged 7-17 who have lost a sibling, parent, or primary caregiver.
Getting her there was quite a production, a story of epic proportions. If you want to hear about all of the yelling, screaming and crying (and that's just the grown-ups I'm talking about) I'll have to work up to that in another post. Let's just say I just might have yelled, "Satan, you CANNOT have this family!" as we endured the road trip from hell. Since the closest I usually come to talking about the evil one has been discussng Voldemort, I think you get the idea of just how bad things were.
The good news is that the camp was wonderful!
Comfort Zone Camp is a safe, fun place for grieving kids. Campers attend Camp for free and can go back once a year until age 17. This is especially valuable as they mature and their needs change. Each camper is assigned a "Big Buddy"-- a caring adult who will be with him or her throughout every aspect of the weekend. Kids are placed in groups (Healing Circles) according to age, and each small group is facilitated by a licensed therapist. Most of the helpers at camp have experienced a significant loss in their lives, so they can really relate to the kids' pain.
Kids discuss their individual stories, coping strategies that do and don't work for them, and they talk about their loved ones who died. They also play games, laugh, have a camp fire, and do outdoor activities like canoeing. I cannot overstate how good it is for these kids to have a place where they feel NORMAL and understood. The camp helps "break the emotional isolation grief often brings."
At the end of the weekend, the Healing Circle leaders share with the parents how the weekend went and how we can best help our kids as they grieve.
I am writing about Comfort Zone Camp today in the hope that if you know a child who would benefit from this kind of experience, even if the loss was years ago, you will pass along the info. Camps are now in 4 states, but kids travel from all over the country to attend.
And, if you feel like supporting this amazing organization either through a donation or by volunteering, you'll consider that, too.
We are so grateful Margaret had the chance to attend.