Do you know a child who is grieving the death of a loved one? Camp Kangaroo is a two-night, three-day experience offered at no cost where children can connect with others their own age who have experienced a loss, learn positive coping skills and feel supported in their journey through grief. Camp Kangaroo is funded by Seasons Hospice Foundation and staffed by trained staff and volunteers from Seasons Hospice & Palliative Care (SHPC). The next camp will be held April 26-28, 2019 in Angelus Oaks. Ryana Goldberger, National Director of Supportive Care and Patient Experience at SHPC and resident of Torrey Hills, has served as the Camp Director for the past four years. “We started with a group of about 30 children during a day camp at Cardiff Elementary school. The camp has grown each year and served 70 children last spring,” says Goldberger. The four Southern California Seasons Hospice programs collaborate each year to serve the San Diego, Orange, San Bernardino and Los Angeles communities.
Campers are referred by school teachers and counselors, family members and friends. An in-home assessment is completed for each child to ensure that the camp is appropriate for them, and they are appropriate for the camp. Goldberger adds, “This camp is really designed for children and teenagers whose grief is affecting their social relationships, their sleep, appetite or school performance. We see a tremendous weight lifted from their shoulders as the weekend progresses. They bond with each other and learn that they have an incredible strength and resilience within them to get through even the most challenging situations.” Many of the campers have experienced the death of a parent, a sibling or a close relative. Some of the deaths were expected and their loved one was on hospice, but most were not. Learning to cope with suicide, murder, and drug overdose is difficult for adults, let alone children. Camp Kangaroo employs a creative arts-based curriculum of music, art and discussion. Campers also get to experience plenty of outdoor play including activities such as archery, a rock-climbing wall, hiking and sports games. The vast majority of the campers are first-time attendees. “They all have such a great time and want to come back, but they are typically in a very different place when we circle back to them. They carry their new skillset forward and are grieving appropriately,” says Goldberger.
If you know of a child (age 5-17 years) who could benefit from this camp, please have their parent or guardian visit www.seasonsfoundation.org/camp-kangaroo/ to register by 4/15. If you would like to make a tax-deductible contribution to sponsor a camper for $300 visit https://seasonsfoundation.org/camp-sponsor/ and include SoCal Camp K in the memo box to earmark your donation for the local camp.