In anticipation of this year’s youth bereavement camps, we had some questions for our staff about last year’s camp program and issues faced by grieving children and teens. Even though this year’s camp experience will be slightly altered to maintain social distancing and safety, the same meaningful grief support will be at the heart of these very unique camp experiences.
What were some of the Camp activities from last year?
Camp Cornerstone, our weeklong day camp, was held at Cornerstone of Hope. Camp Cornerstone’s theme was Medieval Castle. The campers experienced a Zoo Trip, Bubble Soccer, Swimming, Ice Skating, and plenty of outdoor fun. Camp Erin, our weekend overnight camp, was held at Beulah Beach in Vermilion. Camp Erin Campers experienced Paddleboating, Kayaking, Zip lining, Slip N Slide, and many more wilderness adventures. At both camps, children participated in therapies and activities designed to help them through their grief.
Prior to coming to camp, what kind of issues are grieving children experiencing?
In addition to experiencing the pain of loss, grieving children can feel isolated. Traumatic losses are not easy to talk about for children. Also, sometimes kids can have difficulty talking to a parent because their parent is also grieving. Through attending camp, kids realize that they are not the only one who has experienced a loss. This is a place where children can fit in.
What effect does Cornerstone camps have on children?
Camp helps children to access grief in a different way. Kids hear others and are empowered to share. Camp lets kids dig deeper into their feelings. They learn that it is ok to talk and to cry. When one child shared the cause of death, then other children felt comfortable sharing also. The children led each other to a deeper level of healing. Through camp, kids learn that they can confide in a trusted adult like a counselor, teacher, or coach about their feelings.
How did the teens react to camp?
Initially, teens may be hesitant to come to camp. However, once they are here, the teens were eager to connect with one another, and immediately formed a group. One teen camper said “I am glad that I came, at first, I did not want to.” Also, some of the teens return to camp to help out.
About the Campers
This year, half of the campers were new to the camp, and half were returning from a previous year. It is so amazing to see kids healthy and thriving. Some kids share that they cannot wait for next year. The first day of camp starts off quietly, but by the second day, kids are talking and everyone has made a friend!
Grief Programs and Services for Children + Teens
Cornerstone of Hope’s Bereavement Support for children and teens also includes Individual Counseling & Art Therapy, Support Groups, and In-School Support Groups. Please contact one of our locations for more information.
Cleveland | 216.524.4673
Columbus | 614.824.4285
Lima | 419.581.9138
For books and resources on grieving children and teens, please visit our website www.cornerstoneofhope.org and go to Grief Resources and select Children + Teen Grief.