bereavement camp Tag

Camp Kangaroo Continues in 2021

01 Sep 2021, Posted by Seasons Hospice Foundation in Camp Kangaroo

Camp Kangaroo is a bereavement camp offered free of charge to children in the community who have experienced the death of a loved one. Campers receive grief education and emotional support combined with fun camp activities. Camp Kangaroo is psychotherapy and creative arts therapy based. 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. It gives an opportunity for children to find new meaning following the loss of their loved ones.

Coming together as a community is an integral part of Camp Kangaroo. The Pandemic has limited our ability to do so, but our wonderful clinicians have come up with a virtual experience that will insure campers feel supported and part of a group.

Counselors will work with families for our pre-camp assessment. Once that is complete, individual kits will be delivered to each camper’s home. Kits will include supplies needed for legacy projects and activities during group sessions as well as Camp shirts, water bottles, stuffed kangaroos and instructions for guardians.

Virtual workshops will be held during 1-2 hour online sessions. Groups will be broken down by age and each group will participate in activities that lead them through:

  • Sharing their story
  • Understanding how death has changed their lives
  • Adjusting to change and grief emotions
  • Strategies for regurgitating emotions and opportunities to support each other
  • Sharing memories and ideas for remembrances
  • Creating a memory box

Many of these activities help campers to feel like they are not alone in their grief journey. So many of the kids that participate tell us the best part of camp was finding people their age, with similar experiences.

Our favorite community builder at camp is writing a camp song. Our wonderful music therapists have created a way to do this virtually so campers can still participate. Families will receive a digital copy of this camp staple.

Guardians will also be supported through sessions prior to camp and after camp. These sessions provide grief counseling for adults and help caregivers understand how best to support their camper.

If you know someone that needs our support, you can find more information about Camp Kangaroo here.here.

Camp is offered free of charge to any child that needs us. In order to do this, even virtually, we rely on our wonderful donors for support. You can sponsor a camper here!here

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/