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Camp Hope helps heal through fun

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Tue, Apr 3rd 2018 01:10 pm
Camp Hope volunteer Ray Gress visits with a Camp Hope pet volunteer that provides friendly visits to the children each year. (Submitted photo)
Camp Hope volunteer Ray Gress visits with a Camp Hope pet volunteer that provides friendly visits to the children each year. (Submitted photo)
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 18th Camp Hope for grieving children from June 22-24 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 and fun camping weekend.
"It's often difficult for children to speak about the losses and deaths they have experienced," said Camp Hope Director Christella Gress, Ph.D. "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 it also provides them with the coping tools they need to begin healing. They leave Camp Hope with a foundation of greater understanding, and they can better cope with future losses."
At Camp Hope, children enjoy activities such as arts and crafts, a drum circle, swimming, S'mores around a bonfire, a dance party and more. Gress said that, during many of the activities, children talk together about their losses, 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 structured 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 and have the opportunity to exchange signatures with their new friends.
For a free camp application, contact Gress at [email protected] or visit the services tab at www.NiagaraHospice.org/grief-children for an online application.
Applications must be completed in full and received by Friday, June 1. 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. Volunteer applications must be received on or before Monday, May 14.
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, contact the Niagara Hospice bereavement department at 716-280-0777.

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