Summer camp guides kids through grief - FOX13 News, WHBQ FOX 13

Summer camp guides kids through grief

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“She’d paint our nails and paint our toes, “ recalled Nikki Kelly, 7, “When we needed her, we slept in the bed with her.”

She and her twin sister Alexis have many fond, loving memories of their grandmother.

Then there is the memory of her death.

“I came to daddy, then he cried,” said Alexis, “We were really sad.”

“She died when she was 54,” recalled Nikki

While art, sports and music summer camps are in session, there is another camp that teaching a different skill to kids like the Kelly twins: Grieving.

Camp BraveHearts guides kids through grief while teaching them it is okay to still play and laugh.

“That it is okay to grieve, it’s okay to be sad, it’s okay to be angry, it’s okay to feel whatever it is you’re feeling,” said Camp Director Mary Elizabeth Jones, “But it’s also okay to still have fun.”

Alexis recalled last year’s Camp BraveHearts, saying, “We got over our fear, we got over when she died.”

“They told us be brave and be strong,” added Nikki.

Using music therapy and art therapy along with counselors, one activity kids participate in is making a memory box.

Prior to camp, parents and adults speak on the phone with a bereavement social worker about the loved one who passed, gathering information like favorite memories and hobbies. When the kids get to camp, stickers with their loved ones’ favorite things are ready to decorate the boxes.

Alexis added, “So I remember granny and I could put all the stuff I remember about granny like pictures, drawings.”

Children then share the memory box with their family when they miss their loved one who died and talk about their feelings.

Loss occurs together as a family and so should the healing, so Camp Brave Hearts helps parents and adults too.

“In order to best care for the children, they have to care for themselves,” said Jones, “Very much like when you’re on a plane, they say in case of an emergency, oxygen masks drop down, put the oxygen mask on yourself then the children you’re with.”

Jones added children often handle grieving better than adults, saying, “We put filters on, we put the right look on our face or we put the right words into our sentences; kids have no filters.”

Camp BraveHearts is June 5-7 and is for young ones ages six to 16 who experienced loss within the last two years.

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