What is a Bereavement Camp?

June 7, 2011

As adults we know how difficult it is to lose a loved one. Imagine what the death of someone special must be like for children, most of whom have never met another child who has experienced a similar loss.

Good Samaritan Hospice, a mission of Concordia Lutheran Ministries, understands. That's why we have hosted Camp Good SAM for grieving children since 2007. But bereavement camps aren't exactly what some people may envision.

Good Samaritan Hospice's camps provide a safe, caring environment where grieving children and adolescents can create friendships with other kids who understand what they are going through. Fun, recreational activities and crafts are coupled with grief education and emotional support. Professional counselors and specially trained volunteers help campers remember their loved ones, express emotions, share their grief and develop coping skills.

There are times set aside for discussion, peer bonding exercises and grief counseling, but that's all intertwined with fun activities like swimming, sports, arts & crafts, climbing walls, ziplines and more. So in other words, the kids learn how to cope with their grief while still being kids and that's important.

This year, for the first time, Good Samaritan Hospice is hosting two separate bereavement camps for children and adolescents, enabling us to serve more young people and better meet the distinct needs of each age group.

Camp Erin Pittsburgh is for teens ages 13-17 and will take place June 16-18. This camp is collaboration between The Moyer Foundation, a nonprofit organization founded by World Series Champion Jamie Moyer and his wife Karen, and Good Samaritan Hospice.

Camp Good SAM is for children ages 6-12 and will take place Aug. 18-20. Thanks to generous foundations and donors, both camps are free and will be held at YMCA Camp Kon-O-Kwee Spencer, 30 miles north of Pittsburgh.

Because no child should grieve alone each camper is paired with a Big Buddy for the weekend in a traditional "summer camp" setting complete with cabins, bunk beds, a dining hall and campfires.

For more information, camp applications, sponsorship or volunteer opportunities, call Good Samaritan Hospice Volunteer Coordinator Anna Olszewski at 1.800.720.2557, download the brochures (Camp Erin Pittsburgh or Camp Good SAM), e-mail here or visit Good Samaritan Hospice on the Web.

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