CAMP GOOD GRIEF
Losing a loved one is hard. Grief can seem unbearable at times. Now imagine being a child and having all these complicated feelings and emotions running around in your body without the vocabulary or ability to express what is happening. You are expected to behave at home and do well in school after all you have been through. Often times children think they are the only ones who have ever felt this way.
In 1999, Baptist started the first bereavement camp for children ages 6-12 in the Mid-South. We knew that children needed a safe place to explore and express their feelings after the death of a loved one and learn how to thrive in a world without that special person. In 2001, we began Teen Camp Good Grief for teenagers because teens grieve differently than children. These unique programs have served over 1,500 campers and have brought children and teens together to learn more about feelings and emotions in a community with others who have also experienced loss at a young age.
Our brave campers come from all over the Mid-South and usually do not know anyone else at Camp Good Grief. On the first morning, children are shy and quiet - but by the time they arrive on the last day, they have found lifelong friends and made tremendous progress working on their individual grief. Camp Good Grief was developed specifically for children because we know they can only handle and process feelings and emotions for so long before they need to go run and play. Children naturally know it can be good to mix some fun into all the serious. At Camp Good Grief, we sing silly songs, play games, learn about each other, do arts & crafts and work really hard on our grief.
We also know that grief is better when shared with others. At Camp Good Grief, we introduce our campers to other children who have also lost a loved one and we surround them with highly trained volunteers and professional counseling staff. We all play and sing and run around and have a great time. And, when it is time, we all listen to each other's stories and remember the special people in our lives we have lost.
Some of our favorite moments at Camp Good Grief include time with our four-legged friends - pet therapy dogs. They complement the work done at Camp and have a unique way of reaching campers when they need it most. Children can be drawn to animals because they are non-verbal:pet therapy dogs won't repeat secrets, they won't tell you what to do, and they don't even care if you are crying or upset. Our pet therapy dogs show unconditional love and provide a soft place for campers to land when they need a minute to themselves.
At Camp Good Grief, we use the yellow balloon to signify a life and we host a special memorial service for our campers to express their feelings as they remember their loved one. Campers use the tools they have learned throughout their time at Camp Good Grief to process their losses and to appropriately express all the feelings and emotions that come with losing a loved one. We are honored to guide these brave children on their grief journey and pay special tribute to the loved ones they lost.