Kindred Hospice Foundation’s “Camp I Believe”

Kindred Hospice Foundation’s “Camp I Believe”

My name is Willow. I’m 9-years-old and
I’m here because my mom passed away from lung cancer. Sometimes I miss her and I
just start crying. She was funny and she was pretty and she was a really nice
woman. My name is Erica, I’m 13, and what brought me here to camp was because of
my grandma. Every day I had off of school, after school for Christmas, all the
holidays, I always spent them with her. She was my best friend. She passed away
November 22nd last year. “Camp I Believe” is a bereavement camp for children ages
7 to 17 that have experienced the death of a loved one. Camp is funded through
the Kindred Hospice Foundation and the donations that come in from families and
communities that we serve. We have campers who come who might have lost a brother, sister, friend, teacher and they come from all across the country.
It’s an opportunity for them to come together, identify with other kids who’ve
lost someone as well, really encouraging them to tell their story of loss. Emotionally, you know, you’re asking these kids to talk about literally the worst
thing that’s ever happened to them so, you know, we talk about everything from
the physical feelings you feel to the emotional feelings you feel, and the
coping skills. A lot of them feel like they’re all alone in this process and
this camp teaches them that they’re not alone. We really teach the campers the
importance of memorializing, really taking that moment and that opportunity to reflect on why we’re here and who they lost. When I came to camp I was angry and I didn’t know that that was a normal
emotion associated with grief. I thought I was grieving wrong. I left camp with
tools to deal with that anger and now as a young adult I still carry those tools
around, and I experience new grief, but I still have those tools at my disposal to
do life. These kids right now are going through an experience where they’re
experiencing a community through grief in a way that is productive that they
might not have felt before. You come out with kids that are able to articulate
their feelings for the first time because you’ve given them the language
to do so. As the course of the weekend goes, you all of a sudden see what I would call the “Camp I Believe” change where they’re bonding, they’re really getting
out there, and getting wild and crazy and having fun. I really, you know, that’s the
point of camp: to let these kids know that they’re not alone, but also for them
to have fun again. A lot of them have to grow up too soon. It makes you realize
that there is somebody out there that understands and that you can talk to because they’ve been through it. I know they’re going through the same thing as
me and I want to get them to heal like me. I learned that you’re not the only one who has been through it. There’s other people that understand you and you can just talk about it and they’ll help you through it. What brings me back every year is
being able to share my own personal story and being able to have an impact
on the kids’ lives that come in in a really dark place and provide them with,
you know, a little bit of life… and a little bit hope!

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About the Author: Sam Caldwell

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