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Niagara Hospice Camp Hope helps children heal

by jmaloni
Sat, Jun 12th 2010 09:30 am
2009 Camp Hope counselor Jamie Dutka shares a hug with camper DeNaja Cooper who enjoys her Camp Hope quilt.
2009 Camp Hope counselor Jamie Dutka shares a hug with camper DeNaja Cooper who enjoys her Camp Hope quilt.

The Circle of Hope program of Niagara Hospice will hold its 10th Camp Hope for grieving children Aug. 27-29 at the YMCA's Camp Kenan in Barker. Offered to children throughout Western New York who have lost a loved one through death - regardless of hospice care - the camp is free for children ages 7 to 13.

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

"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 280-0777 or visit www.NiagaraHospice.org for printable forms. Applications must be received by Monday, Aug. 2. Applications are also available online for men and women 21 and older who are interested in volunteering.

Camp Hope is free and funded by service clubs, organizations, individuals and grants. It is sponsored in part by A New Dawn Day Spa & Wellness Center, the Barbara Ennis Endowment Fund, the Buffalo Bills Youth Foundation, and Wegman's Supermarket on Military Road. To sponsor a camper, call the Niagara Hospice Alliance Development office at 439-4417.

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