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Camp Hope helps heal

by Marwa
Thu, Jul 14th 2011 12:40 pm
Camp Hope volunteers have fun working with the campers. Volunteers pictured from left are Katie Gilliland, Julie Kowalski, Karen Muscarella, Shawn Walker and Karen DiMaria.
Camp Hope volunteers have fun working with the campers. Volunteers pictured from left are Katie Gilliland, Julie Kowalski, Karen Muscarella, Shawn Walker and Karen DiMaria.

The Circle of Hope program of Niagara Hospice will hold its 11th Camp Hope for grieving children Aug. 26 to 28 at the YMCA's Camp Kenan in Barker.

Offered to children throughout Western New York who have lost a loved one through death - whether or not they ever received hospice care - the camp is free for children age 7 to 13.

Camp Hope is staffed by professional counselors, trained volunteers and a nurse who is on hand for the entire weekend. During the camp weekend, children learn to express their grief through many activities such as creative movement therapy, musical expression, arts and crafts, pet visits, and a memorial bonfire. Outdoor recreation like rock wall climbing, making and eating s'mores around the campfire, swimming and nature walks are also enjoyed.

"When someone they love dies, children look to a trusted adult for support," says Camp Hope Director Linda Bazinet. "We often overlook the fact that children react differently than an adult to the death of a loved one. At Camp Hope, children share their feelings with their peers. They understand each other's needs and respond to each other on their own level. They realize they are not alone in their pain and confusion."

Camp Hope also includes follow-up programs to monitor the children's progress in coping with their loss. About six weeks following camp, the children and their caregivers will meet again with staff and volunteers for a Camp Hope reunion. Children will be given a camp yearbook to exchange signatures with their new friends. If needed, referrals will be made with a bereavement counselor for children in need of additional grief support.

For a free camp application, call the Outreach Department at 280-0777 or visit www.NiagaraHospice.org for printable forms. Applications must be received by Monday, Aug. 1. Applications are also available on-line for men and women 21 and older who are interested in volunteering for the camp weekend - whether it's for a few hours or for the whole weekend.

Camp Hope is free and entirely funded by local service clubs, organizations, individuals and grants. Camp Hope is sponsored in part by the Buffalo Bills Youth Foundation, the American Society of Women Accountants - Buffalo Chapter, the Middle Chamber Society, Optimist International, Lower Niagara Moose Lodge 584, Schuhplattler Gebirgstrachten Verein, and Wegman's Supermarket on Military Road in Town of Niagara. To sponsor a camper, contact the Niagara Hospice Alliance development office at 439-4417.

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