Losing a loved one is hard at any age, but for a child, the grief can be impossible to navigate.

Hospice of Marshall County (HMC) has helped many children through the grieving process with Camp Hope, a one day grief camp for children who participate in HMC’s in-school bereavement program. But on May 9th, for the first time, grieving families were able to attend a similar camp made possible through a grant from the New York Life Foundation. There were 89 participants, representing 27 families at Camp HOPE.

“We don’t always get an instruction manual on how we’re supposed to cope or what we’re supposed to do when we feel all these roller coaster emotions,” explains Stacey Johnson, LBSW, HMC’s Bereavement Director. Camp HOPE is designed to help people navigate through their grief.

Helping children learn to grieve and heal and how to find “joy in the mourning” were underlying themes for the day. The Camp HOPE curriculum is Tools of Expression and throughout the day, families enjoyed activities like canoeing, a giant swing, yoga, arts and craft, and equine support – each tying into the various tools used to express their grief. One participant, Carleigh Gann, learned a valuable lesson on the giant swing. Gann stated, “When they said let go, I was really nervous about it…and so I understand that in life, I’m gonna have to let go of some things.” Carleigh’s mom, Kellie stated, “It’s taken the journey of grief and turned it into something positive. It’s just been an amazing experience today.”

If you are interested in learning more about Camp HOPE, please contact Stacey Johnson, LBSW, at 256-891-7724.

You can view a video from Community Camp HOPE on Hospice of Marshall County’s YouTube Channel.