Camps for grieving children well received

Photo by Laura Williams

Photo by Laura Williams

ALBANY, Ga. -- The death of a friend or loved one can be a tough situation for any individual.

For the younger members of the region's population in that ordeal, there is a place they can go to cope.

Albany Community Hospice has been conducting two-day sessions this week for children, Camp Good Grief and Camp Journey, for the purpose of coming to terms with their personal loss during the initial stages of grief.

"We've got a really great bunch of kids and they really seem to be bonding," said Bereavement Coordinator Erica Cuneo. "They are with other kids who understand their losses."

Camp Good Grief has been held for children who have completed kindergarten through the fifth grade at the Potter Community Center, and Camp Journey was set aside for middle school and high school students at the Fish Camp.

During the program, volunteers and staff engaged participants in games, artistic expressions and small group discussions.

"They do seem to be supportive of one another," Cuneo said. "This seems to be a real positive experience. Even the shy kids have started to open up."

Sports and demonstrations from magicians and Chehaw representatives were among the activities Camp Good Grief coordinated Wednesday.

"It's been great," said Kya Williams, an 11-year-old camper. "It has helped me express my feelings in another way. It's helps you grieve in a different type of way so you don't always walk around feeling sad."

Zach Cross, 11, participated in the camp after the death of his grandfather.

"We've been telling each other about lost loved ones," Zach said of his experience. "You can always be happy even if you've lost a loved one.

"You have to let your feelings out and not let them take you over by sharing with the other people you still have with you."

A memorial service is planned for 4 p.m. today at Potter Community Center for both groups of campers.

Funding for the camps came from the Lopez Hospice Golf Classic and other community fundraisers. Camp Good Grief has been offered for 15 years. Three years ago, the age groups split to form Camp Journey.

Camp Good Grief had 30 participants this year, while Camp Journey had five campers.