By Jeremy Wallace
LUDLOW FALLS — Children and teens in the area are getting some help this week dealing with the grief and sorrow of losing a loved one.
Camp Courageous, an annual camp offered through Hospice of Miami County, is celebrating its 20th year and its first time at its new location in Ludlow Falls.
“We want the children that come here to realize they are not alone and they don’t have to go through this process of loss by themselves,” camp director Pam Linderson said.
The camp has been going on all this week for children from kindergarten through 12th grade who are grieving the loss of a loved one. The camp includes arts, crafts, games, snacks and lunch, along with grief education and bereavement support.
While the camp is made possible through Hospice of Miami County, other supporters like the United Way, community groups and local churches provide snacks and lunch. Camp Courageous is offered free of charge to families.
“This camp needed to continue because it’s an important program for children to help understand how grief works,” Linderson said.
The camp offers outlets for children to release their grief. A popular activity at the camp was art therapy, according to Linderson. This allows the children to express memories of a loved one. They can make drawings, paintings and plaques. Music therapy is another activity the children enjoy because they can sing songs that they like, Linderson said.
Some of the other things children can do is run the obstacle course, go down a water slide, play four square and tether ball. Every participant is paired up with a companion on this week long emotional journey.
“We have more children dealing with the direct loss of a mother or father this year than ever before, so we really want to try our best to help them deal with that loss,” chaplain Ed Ellis said.
Camp Courageous also focuses on helping the children get through the difficult time in their life. There are 40 volunteer companions, so every child can have a someone to talk to at any time. Companions range in age from older teens to senior citizens.
“I had a loved one pass away about a month ago and the companions relate to what I’m going through. My favorite part of the camp is being able to write down my feelings and the activities are a lot of fun as well,” said Larissa O’Connor of Troy.
Companion Elizabeth Overbay chose to volunteer because her sister attended the camp when she lost a loved one.
“My sister came here when our grandmother died and I look at this as a way of giving back, ” Overbay said.
Overbay and some of the other companions also can receive college credit for their week at the camp.
Some of the counselors and volunteers said they noticed that on the first day of camp many of the children are still in their shell, but by the second day they want to talk about how they feel or express their emotions in some way.
“I’m glad to be here for them, no kids should have to go through this. I hope someone would be there for my kids if they were in this position,” said Lee Ann Slife, a volunteer companion from Edison nursing program.
Camp Courageous will be holding an open house for the children of the camp and their families starting at 3 p.m. Friday at the camp Ludlow Falls Camp, 2535 S. State Route 48, Ludlow Falls. This open house will mostly display all of the different types of artwork the children have done over the past week.
For more information, visit HospiceOfMiamiCounty.org or call Generations of Life at (937) 573-2100.
Jeremy Wallace can be reached at (937) 552-2199 or follow him on Twitter @TroyDailyNews