Camp Good Grief’s Mission
At Camp Good Grief our mission is to bring children and teens who are grieving together in a caring and supportive environment. We want to help kids acquire the language needed to express the confusing feelings associated with grief and bereavement as they begin the ongoing process of integrating their loss into everyday life.
Children often receive the message NOT to talk about the death or their grief. At Camp, we see and feel the children’s relief on the very first day as they realize here they are no different. They see, at Camp, everyone has had someone they care about die and it’s OK to talk about it.
Children express painful emotions in short spurts then run off and distract themselves with friends or play. So it may seem to adults that children are not grieving, but they are. A death causes confusion and shatters a child’s belief in their world as a safe and orderly place. Through the many activities at Camp, we try to reinforce a child’s sense of security and safety.
What Happens At Camp
All activities at Camp have been carefully designed to meet the children’s need for age appropriate information about grief, in an atmosphere where a little work is balanced with lots of fun, while new friendships are forged.
The children spend a portion of everyday with their peers in group therapy and art therapy. The rest of the day is filled with activities like sports, swimming, arts & crafts and exploring nature. There is a special event every afternoon designed to bring an end to the day with fun and excitement!
All Camp Good Grief therapists are licensed in their specialty and have many years of clinical experience. There are advanced practice social workers, nurse practitioners, psychologists and art therapists who have undergone extensive training by East End Hospice in the treatment of children’s grief. Our volunteers have also undergone hours of training and have spent a year or more working under the supervision of the social workers helping to co-lead children’s bereavement groups.
Each day at Camp Good Grief is different. During small group and art therapy, the focus for the day is organized around a challenge we know grieving children struggle with. It may be managing new feelings, problem solving, honoring memories or developing strategies to cope with the changes in their lives.
The last day of Camp is exciting day for everyone. This day the children take the lead, they are eager to show you around pointing out everything they’ve done during the week and introducing you to their new friends. We break the ice with dancing led by a wild and crazy DJ. Then time is allotted for a session with your child’s therapist where you are encouraged to ask questions or seek advice. The therapist will let you know if additional help is recommended and provide you with referrals if needed.
Among the activities planned for the day is an art therapy project for you and your child/children. After our Camp song, the week comes to an end, both a happy and sad time for everyone.
How to Help Your Child After Camp
After Camp, we urge you to listen carefully to your children as they tell you about their time with us. We hope you will hear them use their newly acquired language to sort out and express feelings. They will use the real words, like died and death. Or they’ll tell you how they felt, like scared, mad or really confused.
This will be a special and magical week for your children. Children learn how to best soothe themselves during emotionally painful times – these are comforting measures they will continue to use throughout their growing up years.
We know that when children experience the death of a loved one, some childhood innocence goes away. But with the right guidance and in the company of their peers who are also grieving, they will become stronger and renew their confidence in the future while holding lasting and positive memories of the past. Chances are, after camp, they’ll be proud of what they’ve learned and accomplished.
We understand that one of the hardest jobs in the world is being a grieving parent to a grieving child. You are the best source of comfort and support for your children, so we hope you will have an opportunity, during this week while your children are with us, to take time for rest and quiet reflection. Please know you are invited to take advantage of the support East End Hospice has to offer by attending one of the many bereavement groups for adults held across the East End throughout the year.