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Camp helps kids cope

Register • Jun 29, 2013 at 7:26 PM



Mark Twain once said that grief can take care of itself, but to get the full value of a joy a person must have somebody to divide it with.

Camp Good Grief has a similar philosophy.

The camp has been going on for more than 10 years, and was started to give grieving children a chance to be honest and open about their loss in a supportive, safe setting.

“The key is surrounding these children with other children that are also hurting ... giving them the feeling of not being alone,” said Christa Bronner, children's grief counselor at Stein Hospice.

Lyndi Herborn has attended Camp Good Grief three times since her mother passed away when she was just 5 years old.

“The camp has helped me and I have made a lot of friends,” Lyndi said.

Lyndi went to camp with her 9-year-old cousin, Hannah Slater, who recently lost her grandmother. Both girls attend Margaretta Elementary School.

“I was very close to my grandma and I miss her a lot,” Hannah said. “At night when I lay down, I think of her, but camp has taught me how to cope.”

In order to deal with the loss, Hannah likes to read books, especially ones about roller coasters. Reading is one of the many positive coping mechanisms volunteers teach kids ages 5-13 at the camp.

William Rosekelly's grandmother died from lung cancer on April 2. Rosekelly, 7, is headed into first-grade at Furry Elementary School in Perkins.

“She was my favorite,” Rosekelly said. “We played Go Fish together and I miss her. Me and my mom cried a lot, but now we are getting stronger.”

Throughout the week, campers have taken part in animal and art therapy, as well as participating in outdoor activities with the Huron High football team.

The campers also listened to presentations given by a nutritionist from the Ohio State University Extension, a veterinarian from Mapleview Animal Hospital and an advance funeral planning specialist from Groff Funeral Homes and Crematory.

“What Stein Hospice does for these kids is just phenomenal,” said Sherri Fischer, of Sandusky.

Fischer has been training dogs for more than 20 years. She brought two black labs to Camp Good Grief to engage the children.

Tug is only 10-months old and had a “ruff” puppyhood, Fischer told a group of campers.

“His doctors said he would never do anything, but Tug always keeps trying,” Fischer said.

Tug and a 7-year old lab, Diesel, are trained to fetch bumpers, those 9-inch dog toys with rope on the end. The campers commanded the doggy duo to heal, sit and retrieve specific bumpers throw into a field at Osborn MetroPark.

“The rescue animals give the kids something to relate to because they, too, are getting rescued from their problems,” said Melinda Capucini, a volunteer at the camp and Perkins High senior. 

During art therapy, campers created watercolor feelings masks, colorful butterfly sun-catchers, which represent change, and comfort pillows.

“Art provides children with an alternative outlet for communication," Bronner said. "When feelings are not easy to put into words, art can help make expression possible."

Robyn Hodgkinson helped children during art therapy. She has volunteered for Stein Hospice for seven years and has helped out at camp twice.

“The kids are learning skills that will last for the rest of their lives,” she said.

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