Camp Kangaroo

Finding Hope and Healing at Camp Kangaroo California

22 Mar 2019, Posted by Seasons Hospice Foundation in Camp Kangaroo, Donation

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.

Camp Kangaroo – A Volunteer’s Experience

31 Mar 2018, Posted by Seasons Hospice Foundation in Camp Kangaroo

Camp Kangaroo is a 3 day camp for children who have lost an important person in their life, whether that be a parents, a sibling, or anyone of significance. The camp was held an hour drive from my home, taking place during the summer when kids are out of school.

I ended up working at this camp because of my dad. The company my father works for sponsors Camp Kangaroo and my dad thought it would be a great experience for me. Being the teenager that I am, I tried to decline because it was far away and seemed like a massive downer. I didn’t want this dark cloud hanging over my summer.

My job as a volunteer was what the camp called a “Roo-Buddy”, someone who worked directly with the campers. I was paired with the youngest group of kids, the four year olds. There were 5 kids in my group. One of them lost her older brother in a gang shootout in Chicago. Another camper in my group lost her father, who had been physically abusing her, to suicide. Yet another one of the campers in my group lost his father to cancer.

After weeks of training to learn the skills of supporting people who are grieving, my responsibility at the camp was simply to make it fun for the children. I was not a therapist, I was not a counselor, I was simply a volunteer. All I could do was try to make the children smile and give them a break from the darkness of their life. We made kites, and made slime out of laundry detergent and shaving cream, and we made necklaces with beads and string. The kids absolutely loved camp. While playing sports, the kids were smiling and laughing. I had reached my goal of giving them a brief moment of happiness. I realized I had achieved this when one of the little girls in my group told me: “Josh, I wish camp was longer than three days.”

For me camp was very difficult. It was emotionally draining. The camp was well aware of the stress of the job as they had therapists for not only the children but also for the counselors and volunteers. One of the therapists told me, “You must leave here without the burden that these children carry; it is their burden not yours. You are here to give them the tools to deal with their losses.” This was so incredibly hard for me to hear. The entire time I was at the camp all I could think was how terrible it must be for these young children to deal with such horrific pain, and how I wish I could take their pain away from them and make it my own. I remember constantly thinking life is not fair, and about how horrible this world really is. At 17, the children and I had a 13 year difference, and yet they had already experienced so much more pain than I could even imagine. I was really frustrated by the limits of my capabilities and the fact that while I was helping in a small way I couldn’t really make it better for the four year old children who now have to live their life shrouded in darkness. A part of me wishes I never went, and that I could just forget about these tragedies. But in looking back, I am glad I did. I know that I will never forget the children of my group and the incredible feeling of dragging them out of a bleak place, if even for only 3 days. Nothing compares to the feeling that I may have changed someone else’s life for the better and given them hope to hold on.

To volunteer for Camp Kangaroo, sponosor a camper or register a child, visit: https://seasonsfoundation.org/camp-kangaroo/

Sponsor a Camper feature – Alexa Switchulis

31 May 2016, Posted by Seasons Hospice Foundation in Camp Kangaroo, Donation

Alexa Switchulis is proud to support Seasons Hospice Foundation and is donating her graduation gifts to Sponsor a Camper. Camp Kangaroo is a bereavement camp experience offered free of charge to children in the community who have suffered the death of a loved one. Here, children can journey through grief—and embrace life—in a safe and supportive atmosphere. Camp Kangaroo is a source of healing and fun for the children who need it most.

Congratulations & Thank You to Alexa, Class of 2016.

Alexa Sponsor a Camper Alexa Graduation portriat

SPONSOR A CAMPER PROGRAM

The loss of a loved one is difficult for a child and can wreak havoc on families. Unlike adults, children lack the ability to identify and express the conflicting emotions that grief may cause. They can experience changes in behavior, sleep, or eating patterns. Many children struggle at school in the aftermath of a loved one’s death. Some children act out in unproductive and potentially dangerous ways. Parents and guardians are often suffering from grief themselves and need additional resources to support their children at home. Led by dedicated professionals and trained volunteers from Seasons Hospice & Palliative Care, Camp Kangaroo helps children feel less alone in their grief, provides them with a supportive environment to express their emotions, and helps them learn effective coping strategies.

Camp Kangaroo is a bereavement camp experience provided free of charge to children in the community who have suffered the death of a loved one. Participants receive grief education and emotional support combined with fun camp activities. The only national bereavement camp of its kind, this program is psychotherapy and creative arts therapy based. It provides an opportunity for children to process their grief and find new meaning following the loss of their loved ones.

Camp Kangaroo offers healing that is felt across generations. The Sponsor a Camper Program is your opportunity to make a difference. By providing a sponsorship, you can help change a child’s life forever! A gift of $300 will sponsor one child to attend our camp. If you would like to sponsor a camper, please complete the Sponsor a Camper Pledge Form or call our office at (847) 692-1000 for more information. The emotional impact that this camp program provides is priceless.

HOW TO SPONSOR A CAMPER 

ONLINE BY MAIL

Sponsor a Camper