Hospice Hosts Camp for Grieving Children


By Evie Allen

MT. VERNON --  SSM Hospice of Good Samaritan hosted its 2nd annual Camp M.A.G.I.C. Saturday. It stands for "mending a grief in children". 

The one-day camp for children ages 6-12 is designed to help kids grieve the loss of a loved one in a fun, active and positive way. 

"We are letting them come out and try to mend their grieving heart, and let the kids know that they're not alone," says hospice bereavement coordinator Lori Reynolds. 

Reynolds says one way to vent emotions is through arts and crafts. So each camper made a memory box in honor of their loved one. They also designed their own picture frames and shields, all while discussing thoughts and feelings.

"So many times it gets pushed to the side, you know, 'they're a kid, they'll be okay.' But we want to bring that out and let them know we want them to be heard," explains Reynolds.

Nearly a dozen volunteers buddied up with the campers, one-on-one, to offer support and companionship.

"We just hang out the whole day, and I just make sure she's having fun," says seventeen-year-old volunteer Courtney Johnson.

Some of the volunteers are teenagers, making it easier to relate to some of the older kids like 11-year-old Samantha Jones. She lost her father in 2011 and says this camp has been a good way to meet other kids dealing with the same issues.

"I'll always remember that I'm not the only one that's lost someone and has grief or any kind of sadness," expresses Jones.

For the younger ones, there was also a bouncy house, balloons made by a Shriner's clown, and they got to use a fireman's hose, thanks to the the Jefferson County Fire Protection District.

Even though the camp addressed a sad topic, everyone left with a smile on their face.

"It's a good time, because if you've lost a loved one or any type of family, or anyone that you love, you should come here and just have some fun and just get away from all that," suggests Jones.

The day ended with a heartfelt ceremony with songs and the release of more than 200 butterflies. Organizers say they hope the camp continues to grow and that campers leave knowing it's okay to openly express their feelings. 



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