What: Brighter Days Children’s Camp
Where: Dobson First Baptist Church (204 S. Crutchfield Street, Dobson, NC)
Who: Children ages five to eighteen who have experienced a loss
When: July 13th–14th, 2017 (Thursday and Friday) from 9:00 am to 4:00 pm
Register by: Thursday (July 6th, 2017) with some flexibility on late registration
For the past fifteen years, Mountain Valley Hospice & Palliative Care has offered a unique day camp program for children who have experienced a loss in their lives. Learning to cope with loss is difficult for most people and can be especially so for children. Brighter Days Children’s Camp is designed primarily to provide coping skills and tools as they move through the grieving process. The camp is planned with plenty of activities, as well as counselors to guide them based on their ages. Stacie Adams, Kids Path Bereavement Counselor, heads the program.
The camp staff is comprised of eight full-time counselors and two or three volunteers. The ratio of staff to campers is generally 1:3, so there is plenty of personal attention and interaction. Typically, about 30 children attend day camp and come from Yadkin and surrounding counties (Wilkes, Surry, Stokes, and Forsyth). Some campers may already be working with one of the counselors, and some may continue to meet with counselors after camp. Surveys are taken to identify additional needs, once camp is complete.
What’s a day at camp like? It’s busy. . . .
Check-in begins at 9:00 when kids are dropped off. Tote bags are given out as kids arrive, so they can begin decorating and personalizing them. Kids are encouraged to bring a picture of the person they lost, if possible.
Once check-in is complete, small groups are set up by ages, and activities begin such as:
Joining in a relay race or some physical activity.
Art therapy: With some soft background music, kids can create a painting, drawing, or other form of art to release emotions. “In past camps, one camper drew a brightly colored picture and then covered it with brown paint to depict their current emotions,” explained Kristie. “Art is an excellent medium in which to show how someone is feeling, especially when it may be hard to verbalize.”
Games: “An emotion game is played by tossing a ball which lands on an emotion word (such as crying or sadness),” shared Kristie. “This gives a child the opportunity to describe what that emotion feels like to them.”
Snacks: Kids may decorate cookies, with different colors provided. Each color has a meaning, so each person’s cookie will reflect his or her feelings.
Lunch: On Thursday, chicken tenders and potato wedges are on the menu. One of Mountain Valley’s own hospice nurses and her family, who make some great barbecue, are donating Friday’s meal.
Water activities: Camp would not be complete without some water fun. On Thursday, campers will visit the Dobson pool (and will be picked up there at day’s end). On Friday, campers will enjoy the splash pool at Dobson First Baptist.
Project: This year campers will be painting birdhouses to take home with them. At the end of camp on Friday, a special dove release is planned. Last year, campers had a butterfly release. The release is to symbolize letting go and starting over.
Memorial Service: At the end of camp, a memorial service is held as a tribute. “You Raised Me Up” is sung via sign language as thanks to their support team.
If you have a child grieving or know of a child who would benefit by attending Brighter Days Children’s Camp, please share this opportunity.
For information about the camp or other services offered by Mountain Valley Hospice & Palliative Care, contact Kristie Byrd, Director of Family Services, at 888.789.2922, 336.789.2922 or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. For information specifically related to camp, you can also contact Stacie Adams, Kids Path Bereavement Counselor at the same numbers. Visit their website (mtnvalleyhospice.org) as well.