ELYRIA — Camp Good Grief, a children’s grieving assistance camp, is making its first stop in Lorain County at Clare-Mar Lakes Campground in New London this year.
“The camp gives the kids something to look forward to and they get to know they are not alone,” said Nicole Sosa, campground owner.
The camp will start today and run through Friday.
The camp is open to children ages 5 to 13 in which children can learn to cope with the loss of a loved one or pet gain proper coping skills to get through a divorce or incarceration of a parent, or also learn to adapt to a separation due to military service, said Samantha Bechtel, bereavement and spiritual care director of the camp.
Run by Stein Hospice, the camp has never been to this specific location, but it has been held in other cities such as Tiffin, Huron and Port Clinton for the past decade. Sosa offered her campground as a site for local children.
“I overheard an ad for the program on the radio, and well, my daughter had lost her father six years ago and a program like this could have benefitted her,” Sosa said.
Each day of the camp is focused around a different theme, including: grief and loss, feelings, coping and self-esteem. There will be different activities for each day.
“For example, on feelings day, the children will make feelings masks, on grief and loss day, the children will make memory boxes,” Bechtel said.
The camp also offers special guests, such as a music therapy specialist, a funeral home director, a chaplain, a Zumba instructor, a pet-therapy specialist and even a guided imagery director.
One of the main guests, Bechtel said, will be addressing a main objective of the camp.
“A main topic we are trying to address is how grief can affect the mind, body and the spirit,’’ she said. “We are bringing in a nutritionist to teach the children how to take care of their bodies.”
On the last day of the camp the children have a picnic and a graduation/balloon releasing ceremony.
“It’s an honor and a privilege that people allow you to help them,’’ she said. “These children are so resilient.”
Bechtel, who originally was working in Stein Hospice’s Mental Health Department, said her work before she joined Camp Good Grief “burned her out.”
“One of my mother’s friends was working for the camps at the time and mentioned that they had an opening to my mother,’’ she said. “It was as if divine intervention brought me here. This feels like what I am supposed to be doing.”
She said an example of how the camp can benefit children came a few years ago.
“One of the children from the camp … on the second day, the father told me that the child had finally been able to open up about the death of his sister,” Bechtel said. “That spark of hope that tells you he is going to be OK is what it’s all about.”
For more information on Camp Good Grief contact Hope Seavers at (800) 625-5269.
Contact Martin Bielat at 329-7126 or email@example.com.