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Camp Hope helps children heal

by jmaloni
Tue, May 22nd 2012 05:05 pm
Camp Hope counselor Jamie Dutka wraps a handmade quilt around camper DeNaja. Each child receives a handmade quilt to take home after his/her weekend at Camp Hope.
Camp Hope counselor Jamie Dutka wraps a handmade quilt around camper DeNaja. Each child receives a handmade quilt to take home after his/her weekend at Camp Hope.

Submitted by Patricia M. Degan

Director of Marketing and Public Relations

The HomeCare Partners

When we lose a loved one, it seems nothing is right with the world. The sorrow that follows can be debilitating for anyone, and grief for a child can be a confusing process. Whether it's the death of a parent, grandparent, sibling or a special friend, dealing with the loss is beyond the experience of most children and their reaction is often overlooked in the activity surrounding the death.

To address the special needs of grieving children, the bereavement department of Niagara Hospice will hold its 12th Camp Hope for grieving children, June 29 to July 1, 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 ages 7 to 13.

Professional counselors, trained volunteers and a nurse who is on hand for the entire weekend staff Camp Hope. 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. Outdoors recreation such as 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 bereavement department at 716-280-0777 or click the "Our Services" tab at www.NiagaraHospice.org for printable forms. Applications must be received by Monday, June 18. Applications are also available online for men and women, ages 21 and older, who are interested in volunteering for the camp weekend - whether it's for a few hours or for the whole weekend. Volunteer training takes place the first weekend in June.

Camp Hope is free and entirely funded by local service clubs, organizations, individuals and grants. Camp Hope is sponsored in part by the Middle Chamber Society, Niagara Falls Council of Beta Sigma Phi, Optimist International, Moose Lodge No. 584, Niagara County Community College Student Nurses Association, Starpoint Teacher's Association, and Wegmans Supermarket on Military Road.

To sponsor a camper, contact the Niagara Hospice development office at 716-439-4417.

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