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CAMP GOOD GRIEF
In the wake of tremendous emotional pain and upheaval, grieving children are expected to perform as well as behave in school and at home. To help children who have lost loved ones, Camp Good Grief started in 1999 as the first bereavement camp in our area. The camp serves children from all areas of the population. Some campers experience loss from multiple deaths, and the majority of these are sudden and traumatic. The most common deaths are heart attacks, followed by murder, cancer and suicide. Camp is a "normal" place for children. Therapy sessions are sandwiched between pizzas, popsicles and play; and our campers have FUN! Our work will continue with comprehensive on-going bereavement counseling services year-round. But camp is a special place.
In addition to volunteers, pet therapy dogs also attend camp. They complement the work the volunteers do and sometimes reach campers in a way a volunteer cannot. Kids are drawn to the pet therapy dogs because they don't tell them what to do. Campers can tell the dogs their secrets. Some cry to the dogs. They are critical to our work with the campers. They also help some of the campers who are disengaged; they are more drawn to the dogs. And somehow, the dogs just know who needs them.
The yellow balloon release is our way of memorializing and remembering our loved ones by sending pictures and letters up in the sky tied to balloons. It is a very powerful image, a way of helping to create a ceremony of remembering and a physical symbol of the release of grief.