LUDLOW FALLS — It takes courage and support to properly move on from the loss of a loved one. Children who are grieving from the loss of a family member are the focus at Camp Courageous.
The five-day camp, located in Ludlow Falls, focuses on activities to help students in grades 1-8 learn to cope with death, emotions, and the grievance period of losing a loved one. Some of these activities were creating memory stones, dream catchers, and using color to identify their feelings.
“(Campers) have done everything from playing hard, to working hard in groups, and creating any number of things in memory of their loved one,” said Pam Linderson, camp executive director. “They worked hard this week; they have really explored their emotions and I hope they learned a lot, because there’s a great deal of grief education peppered throughout the whole day.”
Guest speakers came in to mentor students, such as nurses and representatives from funeral homes that speak on what happens at a funeral home. Also there was music, animal therapy, and a water slide on camp that students enjoyed.
There are camp companions that each pair with one or two campers to guide campers through each activity. The trained companions are community volunteers and nursing students from Edison Community College earning college credit.
“There is an earned trust that you see between children and their companion, and it is such a beautiful thing to see that,” said Ed Ellis, camp chaplain. “You just see it so much, it’s really neat”
Being around other students who are coping makes it easier for students to open up.
“(Campers) realize they are with kids in similar situations,” Linderson said. “For these kids, there’s been a major loss in their life…that’s why the camaraderie develops almost instantaneously.”
“I think just the focus on the children’s grief; sometimes children are almost forgotten grievers in families,” said Ellis. “Families are so overwhelmed by their own sadness that they are so concentrated on that grief to be able to really give primary attention to the children’s grief.”
Some of the campers offered their impressions on their experience at the camp.
“(Camp) helped me understand more about suicide,” said Natalee Wallace, 11, of Tipp City. Wallace lost her uncle to suicide. She enjoyed the arts and crafts, and making a memory stone in honor of her uncle.
Morgan Owens, 6, of West Milton, realized life continues without a rewind button.
“What I learned the most is that (in a) lifetime, something dies…you can’t go back where you started,” he said.
Camp Courageous is sponsored by Generations of Life, a service of Hospice of Miami County, and offers activities and support groups throughout the year for grieving kids.
Applications for the camp are accepted in late April/early May, with registration always taking place two weeks prior to camp, for those interested in signing their child up.