Brighter Days camp to help children with grief


First Posted: 4/22/2015

Mountain Valley Hospice & Palliative Care is accepting registrations for its annual Brighter Days Children’s Camp.

The camp is offered at no cost to children who have experienced a significant loss. All children within the age groups of kindergarten to eighth grade are welcome to attend, including those whose loved one’s end-of-life care did not involve hospice services.

The camp is a one-day experience. There will be three opportunities to attend, depending on one’s location. On June 19, the camp will be held at DeHart Park in Stuart, Virginia. On July 16, it will take place at the Oak Crest campground in Mount Airy. On July 23, it will be held at Smoot Park in North Wilkesboro. The camp at DeHart Park will last from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.; the camps at Oak Crest and Smoot Park will last from 8:30 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Professional support staff will lead activities that include playing games, craft-making, therapeutic painting, and swimming. Each camper will receive a free Brighter Days t-shirt.

Lunch will be provided as well.

“At Brighter Days, children are able to befriend and interact with other children who are dealing with grief,” said Kristie Byrd, Family Services coordinator at Mountain Valley Hospice. “The camp activities are enjoyable, but they also teach valuable lessons. Children have a blast while learning coping strategies for grief that will help them throughout life.”

The camps in Mount Airy and North Wilkesboro will conclude with a brief memorial service starting at 6 p.m. Campers’ family and friends are invited to attend this casual-yet-special service in which the children as a group share their camp experience. Dinner will be served at no cost. A balloon release will follow.

The registration deadline is July 9. That same day, an information session for parents and campers will take place at Mountain Valley Hospice’s Mount Airy office, from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. While the meeting is not mandatory, attendance is strongly encouraged.

Ben Webb, who oversees Mountain Valley Hospice’s day-to-day Kids Path operations, expects this year’s camp to be equally fun and poignant. “Brighter Days is about helping grieving children realize what they’re feeling is normal and that they are not alone in their pain,” he explained. “It’s a safe environment where kids can figure out how to enjoy living while coping with loss.”

For more information, contact Ben Webb at 1-888-789-2922 or bwebb@mtnvalleyhospice.org, or visit mtnvalleyhospice.org/brighter-days-grief-camp.

Photo 1: Brighter Days campers share artwork they drew in memory of loved ones.

Photo 2: Anne Standen explains pet therapy to Brighter Days campers, with her eight-year-old Brussels Griffon, Tucker.

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