Camp Aloha, Hospice Savannah’s bereavement camp for children, is gearing up for its 18th annual camp May 2-4.
The camp, which began on Tybee Island and later moved to the Ebenezer Retreat Center in Rincon, is being planned by Hospice Savannah’s bereavement counselors, employees and trained volunteers. Last year’s camp welcomed over 65 children between the ages of 6 and 17 who had lost loved ones in the prior 24 months.
“One year, we had a special-needs high-school student. Before camp, he didn’t really how to process his feelings. Camp was a liberating experience for him as he learned it is okay to grieve; it was so helpful to him that he plans to come back as a counselor in training,” bereavement counselor Holland Morgan said. “Assisting and teaching children who have eye-opening experiences is what makes everything we do worthwhile.”
Throughout their weekend at Camp Aloha, the children use different tools to help them grieve their losses. Along with group therapy sessions, the kids play question games to show that everyone grieves and they are not alone in their feelings.
“When a child loses a loved one, sometimes it makes them feel like they are weird and different from other kids. So at camp we spend a lot of time teaching them that they are not alone and death is a natural part of life,” bereavement counselor Betsy Kammerud said.
The children also enjoy some time away from their grief work by swimming, playing basketball, hiking in the woods, painting, singing and making new friends.
After camp is over the children are asked what they liked most about camp. Besides the No. 1 answer of “swimming,” the children say they enjoyed learning how to put their emotions into words.
For more information about becoming a camper, go to Hospice Savannah’s website and fill out an application at www.HospiceSavannah.org/CampAloha, or call Barbara Moss at 912-629-1089 or email BMoss@HospiceSavannahHelps.org.