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. And when a loved one dies, it can be difficult to know how to help kids cope with the loss, especially if you are working through your own grief as well.
This fall, Hospice of Southwest Georgia will host the 10th annual Camp H.E.A.L. (Healing and Encouragement After Loss), a bereavement day camp that helps children ages 6 to 17 learn to cope with the loss of a loved one.
The day camp, which is funded through designated gifts made to the Archbold Foundation, is free and open to the public.
“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 Sheri Walters, Hospice of Southwest Georgia interim administrator. “Our bereavement camp offers a therapeutic value that addresses each child’s individual needs. But we also incorporate fun activities, along with the education and emotional support, that encourages campers to share with each other who are learning to cope with the same feelings.”
Trained professionals and volunteers assist with the therapeutic activities offered at the free camp—pet therapy, art therapy, music and educational discussions on grief and bereavement—while helping the children discuss the loss of their loved one and how to work through grief.
"Being a volunteer at Camp HEAL is such a rewarding experience,” said Vann Middleton, president of the Archbold Foundation and Camp HEAL volunteer. “All of these great kids who've experienced a common loss in their lives form a bond and friendship with each other almost instantly. I've enjoyed playing a small role in making sure they all go home with smiles on their faces and memories that will last a lifetime."
Camp H.E.A.L. will be held in Thomasville on November 7, 2015 from 9am–5pm at Camp Piney Woods.
The deadline to register a camper is October 24, 2015. Applications are also being accepted for Camp H.E.A.L. volunteers. The deadline for volunteer applications is September 30, 2015.
For more information on registering a camper or becoming a Camp H.E.A.L. volunteer, call Hospice of Southwest Georgia, 1.800.290.6567, or visit www.archbold.org/campheal.
Sheri Walters, interim administrator of Hospice of Southwest Georgia, assisting a camper with an activity at Camp HEAL.
Christie Thomas, Camp HEAL volunteer, assisting campers with horseback riding activities during the bereavement day camp.