06/10/05 — Camp will help children dealing with loss

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Camp will help children dealing with loss

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on June 10, 2005 1:46 PM

When school is out during the lazy days of summer, it's supposed to be a carefree time of fun and frolic. But even warm temperatures cannot distract a child who has lost a loved one.

Home Health and Hospice Care, or 3HC, sponsors Wings camp each year for youths ages 8 through 15. Designed to assist children through the grieving process, the camp is held at the Woodmen of the World Camp in Dover.

From Aug. 5 through 7, approximately 30 children from all over eastern North Carolina are given the opportunity to express feelings and emotions around the death of a family member, role model, friend, or any loss of a loved one.

Jerry Forbis, public relations coordinator for 3HC, said the grief camp is not just for families served by 3HC. "Any child with a grieving heart is eligible," he said.

"Children have so little life experience that moving through the grief process can be extremely difficult and have lifelong consequences," said Jane Quinn, Hospice Spirituality/ Bereavement coordinator for 3HC.

"Wings teaches coping skills which aid in this journey and will continue to help throughout adulthood."

Campers learn now to deal with some of the feelings of loss and how to face anxieties that accompany such a life-changing event.

"Children begin to see that grief is not a process of forgetting," Forbis said, "but rather a process of remembering with less pain."

Grief-related activities are conducted in small groups led by trained volunteers, he said. Children are encouraged to express themselves through arts and crafts, journaling, singing, large group sharing, swimming and lots of play.

"Campers have the opportunity to make new friends with others also experiencing a loss," said Forbis. "They find creative ways to express their feelings, experience comfort and encouragement from peers, and have some fun and laughter."

3HC staff and volunteers supervise the camp. Referrals for both campers and volunteers are currently being accepted.

Forbis said he hopes to spread the word about the grief camp, especially to families who might benefit from the service.

"If you are aware of children in your family or community who would benefit from attending Wings! or if you feel called to volunteer at camp, please contact 3HC's corporate office," he said. The number is 1-800-260-4442.