POMEROY — No matter your age, losing a loved one is always a painful experience.
This past weekend, a group of adult and teen volunteers led by Holzer Hospice offered an opportunity for area children, who have experienced the grief associated with the death of a parent, friend or other loved one, an opportunity to express their feelings in a positive fashion and help facilitate the healing process.
Camp Beaver, a bereavement camp for children, was held at the Ohio Valley Christian Assembly Camp Grounds in Pomeroy, Ohio. According to organizers, 28 area children who have lost loved ones participated in the camp.
Sharon Shull, RN, BSN, Director of Holzer Hospice, said the bereavement camp provided the children the chance to see that people outside their usual circle of relationships care about them and what they are experiencing.
“We’re strangers, but over the couple of days that they’ve been here, they have been able to share what they have lost,” she said. “We have provided enjoyable activities to do to relate to that loss, which has helped remove the sadness out their situation.”
Shull said the inspiration for Camp Beaver came from various sources, including the experience her own granddaughter went through following the loss of the child’s grandfather. Recently, Shull was recognized for her work with Camp Beaver through a Huntington-area TV station’s Hometown Hero Program, where her son nominated her for the award.
According to www.hellogrief.com, childhood bereavement is far more common than many of us think. Statistics show that one in nine Americans lose a parent before age 20; one in seven will lose a parent or sibling before age 20.
Volunteers organized a variety of activities including crafts, climbing wall, healing circles and a dance party with Rock N’ Reggie. All of the activities were designed to allow the children to express their feelings through art and play. The camp wrapped up with a butterfly release.
Volunteers included Dr. Fred Williams, Director of Chaplaincy Services for Holzer Health System, as well as nurses, social workers, counselors and local community adults and teens. Williams, whose family dealt with the wide range of emotions associated with the death of a loved one following the death of his wife several years ago, said Camp Beaver is a safe, positive place for kids to express themselves.
“The camp provides an environment where they’re together with other individuals who are also going through the grieving process,” he said. “It gives them a place where they are free to let their feelings out, but in a way that they want to. No pressure is applied. The activities generate thoughts and discussion about their feelings in a very non-threatening, assured way. It helps them to be in that environment.”
Williams also commented that he and the other Camp Beaver volunteers who may have lost loved ones through the years also experience healing just by reaching out to the children who participate in the camp.
“One of the things about grieving is finding new meaning in life without your loved one,” he said. “For me, this is part of who I am now after losing my wife. I find meaning by investing in other people’s lives and helping children, as well as other people that I encounter, find new inspiration for themselves in remembering loved ones. When you find new meaning in life, it provides hope that I’m going to be okay. That’s how it’s helped me and that’s the process we hope they’ll find here.”
Camp Beaver was offered at no cost to the participants and is fully funded through grant money and very generous contributions from our local business and community members. Designed for children and young adults ages 6 through 15, this overnight camp helps participants understand feelings associated with the death of a loved one, friend, or pet. Holzer Hospice would like to extend appreciation to all of our Volunteers and our local businesses and community members who support Camp Beaver, without the generous donation of time and funds, we would not be able to provide Camp Beaver for the children of our communities.
For more information, or to discuss details of Camp Beaver 2013, please call (740) 441-3406.