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Camp Good Grief helps participants learn to cope

Jul 11, 2023Jul 11, 2023

Camp Good Grief ends with bubbles as campers joyfully hopped around the bubble machines. The children who attended the camp learned how to deal with loss whether it was losing a loved one or divorce.

Parents joined their children last Friday for the closing ceremony of Camp Good Grief, a day camp fully funded by the Hospice Care Options Foundation and staffed by volunteers.

Camp Good Grief is a three-day camp for children ages 5 to 14 who have experienced any type of loss, whether from death, foster care, divorce, deployment, family unemployment or relocation.

The camp has locations in Milledgeville, Macon, Warner Robins, Ocilla and Eastman, and is offered the first weeks after school ends. Northside Baptist Church hosted Camp Good Grief's Milledgeville location.

Throughout the camp, children partake in art therapy, music therapy, pet therapy, recreation and grief counseling to gather tools and strategies to help them deal with loss and grief.

"Everything that we do is related out to helping you with your grief," said Brenda Knight, executive director of Camp Good Grief.

The Old Capital Car group conducted a toy car race for the camp's last activity, using cars made by the kids in the camp and a track provided by a local Boy Scouts troop. Parents and family alike cheered on their kids as their cars raced for the finish line.

Parents, children and staff enjoyed pizza, coleslaw and drinks while watching a slideshow featuring photos of their children having fun participating in activities at the camp. The children were provided a morning snack and a lunch each day at the camp.

Professionals who are experts in dealing with child grief prepared therapeutic activities for the camp participants. Volunteers are trained how to execute the activities in order to best help the children in their grief journey.

"We have different types of little materials that we use that helps a child understand grief," said Knight. "The one for writing tells all about how your parents can explain grief to you."

These activities can vary depending on the age of the kids. Older kids are given a more detailed description on what to expect when their loved one passes.

While attendees at the ceremony finished eating their pizza, Knight took the opportunity to thank the sponsors who made the camp possible. Camp Good Grief has many local businesses and organizations supporting them in different ways.

Local dentist Dr. Gregory Graham provided toothbrushes that went in the children's to-go bags. Northside Baptist Church not only provided the host space for the camp but also supplied a hot dog lunch. Community Baptist Church bought the pizza for the camp's closing ceremony.

Paul Elmore, CEO of Hospice Care Options, said the camp was originally started by local community volunteers before his company got involved years ago and began funding the camp. Many of these volunteers continued to help run the camp even after Hospice Care Options took over.

"The children are the backbone to every community," said Elmore, relaying why his company got involved. "Anything we can do to give back to that very special part of the community. We are very happy, have a lot of gratitude to do that."

In the final piece of the ceremony, high school volunteers released bubbles outside using bubble machines. The children, surprised by the bubbles, hopped around the parking lot, popping the bubbles.

A volunteer compared grief to bubbles, telling the kids that they may feel pain from loss right now, but it will eventually float away and become easier.

After the bubble ritual, the children took pictures with the colorful vintage cars brought by the Old Capital Car Club. The kids also got to take home a tote bag filled with toothbrushes, journals, cups and other information on how to deal with grief.

To Knight, seeing the children become more comfortable and realize that there are other kids who are going through the same thing is the most rewarding part in working at the camp.

Camp Good Grief has other resources and pamphlets for parents with children who need extra help in dealing with their grief.

Potential applicants or volunteers can find applications on Hospice Care Options website: or email the volunteer coordinator Tammie Malone at [email protected] for more information.

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