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Camp Hope helps children heal through fun

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Fri, Mar 17th 2017 03:35 pm
Camp Hope 2016 campers are shown enjoying the drumming circle.
Camp Hope 2016 campers are shown enjoying the drumming circle.

By Niagara Hospice

Grieving the loss of a loved one is difficult for anyone, but it can be especially difficult for children. Children grieve differently than adults.

To address the special needs of grieving children, the bereavement department of Niagara Hospice is offering its 17th Camp Hope for grieving children. The event runs from June 23-25 at the YMCA's Camp Kenan in Barker.

Children ages 7 to 13 throughout Western New York who have had a significant life change or lost a loved one through death - whether or not they ever received hospice care - are invited to enjoy this free camping weekend.

"It's often difficult for children to speak about the losses and deaths they have experienced," Camp Hope coordinator Leann McConchie said. "They find that most of the other children they socialize with have never experienced such a loss. Camp Hope provides these children with a unique opportunity to meet and talk with other children who are grieving, and also provides them with the coping tools they need to begin healing and to have a foundation from which to understand and cope with future losses."

At Camp Hope, children enjoy activities such as arts and crafts, a drum circle, swimming, S'mores around a bonfire and a dance party.

McConchie said that, during most activities, children talk together about their losses, and share thoughts and feelings with other campers, trained volunteers and professional counselors. They come to recognize grief is a natural response to a loss such as losing a loved one. Together, campers learn positive ways to cope with loss; they help each other; and they learn they are not alone.

Camp Hope is staffed by professional counselors, trained volunteers and nurses who are on hand for the entire weekend. During the camp weekend, children learn to express their grief through the many provided activities and a memorial bonfire.

In the fall, the children and their guardians 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.

For a free camp application, call the Niagara Hospice bereavement department at CampHope@niagarahospice.com; call 716-280-0777; or click the "Services" tab at www.NiagaraHospice.org/grief-children. Applications must be completed in full and received by Friday, June 2. Applications are also available online for men and women 18 and older who are interested in volunteering for the camp weekend, whether it's for a few hours or for the whole weekend. Call 716-280-0777 for more information or to apply. Volunteer applications must be received on or before Monday, May 15.

Camp Hope is free to campers and relies on the donations from local service clubs, organizations and individuals, as well as grants. To make a donation or to sponsor a camper, call the Niagara Hospice bereavement department at 716-280-0777.

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