Camp Pathways to offer grief support to children and teens

Ohio’s Hospice Pathways of Hope Grief Counseling Center is offering support to grieving children and teens this summer at Camp Pathways.

“When we go this summer, it will be the 30th time we’ve done the summer camp. We’ve done it for many years, and we feel like we’ve got it to the place where it’s really good. Every time we do it, we make it a little bit better. This year, we are going for one day, so it’s going to be a day camp,” said Lisa Balster, director of patient and family support services at Ohio’s Hospice.

Camp Pathways is a unique experience for children and teens ages 7-17 who have experienced the death of a parent, sibling, a grandparent or significant loved one and are actively grieving. It will be held at the Camp Joy Outdoor Education Center in Warren County on June 21. Up to 60 campers are expected to participate.

The camp is designed for children and teens to express their feelings of grief in a safe and fun environment. Professional grief counselors and trained volunteers will lead the activities. Each camper will be paired with an adult buddy to support them through their grief while at camp, including Ohio’s Hospice staff members, a nurse, bereavement counselors and volunteers.

Balster said throughout the day, as participants lean into grief, they will have an opportunity to learn some basic things about grief. Kids learn it is OK to have their feelings, and they are not alone, for example.

“It’s amazing to us that kids may feel like they are the only one in the universe who doesn’t have a dad, or who doesn’t have a mom, or who is missing a sister, or brother, and some kids, unfortunately, have had many losses, even as young children, sometimes. So, we’re teaching that you’re not alone, and that you are entitled to your feelings,” she said.

In addition to learning how to deal with grief, the children and teen campers will swim, fish and canoe. They also will participate in a high-ropes course, field games, climbing wall and a challenge hike. The camp will end with a campfire at the end of the day.

“When we bring the kids back home, you can see them teaching the grown-ups in their family what they’ve learned,” Balster said. “It’s a really neat initiative, we love taking kids, and we love going. It’s worked well for our organization, and it’s worked well for a long time.”

Camp Pathways is part of the programming available at Ohio’s Hospice. Bereavement counseling professionals provide support and education with expertise in serving grieving children, adolescents and adults.

For more information about the programs available through Ohio’s Hospice, visit ohioshospice.org, or call 937-258-4991.

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