Camp helps children dealing with grief

Posted: August 23, 2013

The Winchester Star

WINCHESTER — Blue Ridge Hospice officials are encouraging children who are dealing with the grief associated with the death of a loved one to register for its eighth annual Camp Hope.

The overnight camp will be held Sept. 21-22 at the Northern Virginia 4-H Education and Conference Center in Front Royal.

Camp Hope is designed for children ages 7 to 16 who have lost a loved one — from a parent to a friend. More than 350 youths have attended the camp, which is held at no charge to participants.

“I think it’s important for kids to know they’re not alone,” said Lynn Gray, vice president of patient and family services at Blue Ridge Hospice. “If you’re the kid whose mom dies, then you think you’re the only person and it makes you stick out even more. This [camp] really normalizes how they feel.”

The camp begins at 9 a.m. on Saturday, Sept. 21, with a memory board. Youths are asked to submit a picture of their deceased loved one and put it on the board.

“It’s a nice way to start their entry into camp,” Gray said.

The rest of the camp consists of crafts, games, group exercises, a music therapist and a miniature rope course for youths to gain confidence and be active.

Counselors will work with campers on how to cope with their loss, and group education and support sessions are planned during the day for parents and guardians.

The camp will conclude with a memorial service and slide show around 11 a.m. Sunday.

Those interested in registering should visit blueridgehospice.org or call 540-313-9267. Gray said that registrants should contact the organization no later than Aug. 30.

The camp is sponsored through support from donors and by Blue Ridge Hospice’s annual 5K Run/Walk, held each October.

Kimberly’s and Alamo Drafthouse Cinemas sponsored events this year to financially support Camp Hope. The nonprofit organization Project Linus is assisting with the donation of blankets to campers.

Blue Ridge Hospice, also a nonprofit organization, serves Winchester and Frederick, Clarke, Loudoun, Warren, Shenandoah, Fauquier, Page and Rappahannock counties. It offers free grief and loss counseling sessions and pairs up with other community resources to offer a wide array of services. Last year, Blue Ridge Hospice cared for 1,109 patients and assisted more than 2,000 family members through counseling sessions, according to an Aug. 14 press release.

— Contact Rebecca Layne at rlayne@winchesterstar.com