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Free one-day camp helps children cope with grief

Registration is open for Camp Courage

JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. – For a child who is grieving, the process can be very complex and different from the way adults cope with a death.

To help kids who have recently suffered the loss of a loved one – like a parent, grandparent, sibling or anyone else close to them – Mountain States Hospice is hosting Camp Courage, a free one-day camp where kids will learn how to handle their grief.

Camp Courage is sponsored by Morris-Baker Funeral Home and Cremation Services, and will take place on June 27 from 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. There is no cost to attend, but preregistration is required. Registration must be received by June 2. Children don’t have to have used Morris-Baker or Mountain States Hospice services to attend the camp.

At Camp Courage, counselors will use storytelling, recreation, creative arts and relaxation to help kids sort through their feelings about their loss. Through listening, sharing and participating, campers will learn coping skills that can lead to healing. There will be a child life specialist from Niswonger Children’s Hospital at Camp Courage to work with the kids. Children will also get to bond and connect with other children who are grieving so they can support each other.

Also, Kibbi – Morris-Baker’s therapy dog – will be there to help kids sort through their emotions.

“Sometimes, consolation comes through more clearly without words. Kibbi is good at understanding kids in their moments of stress and helping them feel able to rejoin the work of processing their grief with the group,” said Anna Butler, Mountain States Hospice Chaplain. “That said, sometimes we don’t know what will work.

“A few years ago, I had a girl who refused to engage in any of the interventions we offered. I allowed her to decline participation without argument, but with each new activity, I welcomed her to join. Nothing worked until the end when we distributed balloons and markers. We wrote notes on the balloons and then released them. That was her moment. She took the balloon and the marker and filled it with a message to her dad that none of us ever saw. But her tears and subsequent smile after we released the balloons let us know that it had helped.”

After the camp, caregivers will receive a take-home packet with a letter describing what their child experienced that day and contact information for various resources that can help with ongoing counseling if necessary.

Camp Courage is open to any child from kindergarten through eighth grade. To register, contact Anna Butler, Mountain States Hospice Chaplain, at 423-431-7663 or ButlerAM@msha.com.

Learn more about Camp Courage at www.MountainStatesHealth.com/Camp-Courage.

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