Hospice of Southwest Georgia Hosts 6th Annual Camp H.E.A.L.

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Hospice of Southwest Georgia Hosts 6th Annual Camp H.E.A.L.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Another school year will soon come to an end and children will fill their days with fun activities and family vacations.

For some though, these activities and vacations may not be the same because of the recent loss of a loved one.

According to the Social Security Administration more than three and one-half percent of children under 18 years have experienced the death of a parent.

The loss of a parent, sibling, grandparent, other family member or friend is likely to occur at some point in a child’s early years.

Six years ago, Hospice of Southwest Georgia recognized the need to reach a segment of the population that often has a difficult time working through the loss of a loved one. Camp H.E.A.L. (Healing and Encouragement After Loss) was born out of a desire to reach children coping with loss.

Camp H.E.A.L., a bereavement day camp that helps children ages 6-13 cope with the loss of a loved one, expanded last year to reach even more children by offering camps at two locations – Thomasville and

“This is our 6th year and we are excited to offer Camp H.E.A.L to our Bainbridge and Thomasville service areasonce again,” said Regenia Jones, MSN, CHPN, CNII, administrator for Hospice of Southwest Georgia. “The camp has grown over the years and Hospice of Southwest Georgia staff and volunteers work year-round to prepare for Camp H.E.A.L. to ensure that we reach as many children as  possible.”

When dealing with grief, children must first learn to accept the reality of their loss and acknowledge the pain they feel. Then the child can adjust to an environment where the loved one will no longer be and find ways to remember the loved one in special ways.

For some children, this process takes months and maybe even more than a year.

“Camp H.E.A.L. gives children a safe environment to bond with other children that have also experienced the loss of a loved one,” said Anna Brinson, Hospice of Southwest Georgia bereavement coordinator. “Activities focus on helping the children identify and express their feelings and the recreational activities focus on working together as a team. This allows children to take breaks from their painful feelings and experience fun in addition to learning how to cope with grief.”

This free camp is filled with fun and therapeutic activities including horseback riding, water slides, art therapy, music, education  discussions on grief and bereavement and an informal memorial service. Trained professionals and volunteers help each child discuss the loss of their loved one and work through grief.

“Camp H.E.A.L. is designed to allow children to express their pain and loss with professionals and trained volunteers,” said Jones. “The camp is unique because of the therapeutic value of addressing each child’s needs while also combining fun activities, education and emotional support to let them know that there are other children who share the same feelings.”

Hands and Hearts for Horses, a pet therapy program, will once again offer horses for children to ride during the camp. The animals are sensitive to the needs of the children and help foster a healing environment.

The free camp in Thomasville will be held on Saturday, June 4 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Pebble Hill Plantation. The free camp offered in Bainbridge will be held on Saturday, June 18 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Bainbridge College’s Kirbo Center.

Please call 229-584-5500 (Thomasville camp), 229-246-9965 (Bainbridge camp) or 800-290-6567 (for either camp) to register a child or for more information. To be sure your child has a spot at one of these camps, they must be registered by or before registration deadlines: Friday, May 20 (for Thomasville camp) or Friday, June 3 (for Bainbridge camp).

Applications are also being accepted for Camp H.E.A.L. volunteers. The deadline for volunteer applications is April 30. For more information on becoming a Camp H.E.A.L. volunteer call Hospice of Southwest Georgia, 229-584-5500.

2011 Camp HEAL Volunteer Application