BARKER – To address the special needs of grieving children, Niagara Hospice will offer its annual Camp Hope June 28-30 at the YMCA’s Camp Kenan in Barker.
This free camp is open to children ages 7 through 13 from throughout Western New York who have lost a loved one – whether or not they received Hospice care.
Camp Hope is staffed by professional counselors, trained volunteers and a nurse. Children learn how to express their grief through activities that include creative movement therapy, musical expression, arts and crafts, pet visits and a memorial bonfire. Children also have the chance to enjoy outdoor recreation, like rock wall climbing, swimming, nature walks, and making and enjoying s’mores around the campfire.
Applications must be returned by June 17.
The camp is open to any child who has lost a parent, grandparent, sibling or special friend.
Organizers explain that the sorrow that follows such a loss can be debilitating for anyone, but is a particularly confusing process for a child.
“At Camp Hope, children receive the opportunity to connect with their peers in a new way,” said Linda Bazinet, director of the camp. “They break a barrier that allows them to share their feelings to others who understand what they are feeling.
“A child’s response to death is commonly overshadowed by the feelings their loved ones are experiencing, which may leave them thinking they are alone,” she added. “What a child needs is to understand that they are not alone in their pain and confusion, and that it is OK to grieve. This is what Camp Hope offers.”
Children will be given a camp yearbook to exchange signatures with their new friends.
About six weeks after camp, the children and their caregivers will meet again with staff and volunteers for a Camp Hope reunion.
For a free camp application, call the Niagara Hospice Bereavement Department at (716) 280-0777 or visit the Our Services tab at www.NiagaraHospice.org for printable forms.
Camp Hope is entirely funded by local service clubs, organizations, individuals and grants.
The free camp is sponsored in part by the Middle Chamber Society, Niagara Falls Council of Beta Sigma Phi, Optimist International, Moose Lodge 584, Niagara County Community College Student Nurses Association, Starpoint Teachers Association and Wegmans Supermarket on Military Road, Niagara Falls.
Anyone interested in helping sponsor a camper may call the Niagara Hospice Development Office at 439-4417.