Hospice’s Camp Sunshine is a free one-day bereavement camp for children between the ages of 6-12 who have lost a family member or someone close to them. The program helps children understand death and dying and helps them deal with the grieving process in a healthy manner. Children do not grieve in the same way adults grieve; therefore, bereavement sessions must be specifically tailored to address different age groups and various levels of understanding. Hospice’s Camp Sunshine is sensitive to children’s needs and those issues.
Each child who participates in Hospice’s Camp Sunshine is matched with an adult “big buddy” who will be there to offer gentle encouragement and reinforcement during the program. Healing is a process that may require a great deal of time; therefore, kids are taught various techniques to cope with their loss. And, because they often blame themselves, the program emphasizes that the death of a loved one is not their fault, they are not alone and that it is okay and natural to grieve.
Throughout the day, kids join in a variety of planned activities, such as structured games and recreational events. They have opportunities to share thoughts and feelings during healing circles, express their frustrations or feelings through art and create a memory box. They meet new friends, enjoy group interaction, and participate in rituals and music therapy.