Staff members of an area home hospice organization are helping grieving children at Camp Dragonfly — a camp designed to foster coping skills in children who have lost a loved one within the past two years.
Camp Dragonfly is sponsored by Home Hospice of Grayson, Cooke & Fannin Counties and is held at All Saints Camp on Lake Texoma.
A Camp Dragonfly session for children ages eight to 12 is set for Sept 21, 22 and 23.
Camp Dragonfly Director Jolene Senek, LBSW, CT, GC-C, said children who attend the camp sessions have one thing in common — they are grieving.
The focus of the camp is on healing.
“The three-day camp emphasizes healing through thoughtfully designed activities that are meaningful, fun, and often, life changing,” Senek said in a news release. “ One camper who had suffered a traumatic loss said to his counselor, ‘I feel better inside. Thank you for helping me.’”
Senek noted that like many children, this child came to camp with unresolved feelings of grief, anger and sadness.
“He had gone from being an A plus student to making 30s, 40s and 50s on his schoolwork,” she said. “ His grandmother wrote in her evaluation that after his camp experience, the boy’s grades, and his life improved.”
Dragonfly campers can participate in games, art activities, nature hikes, conversations with counselors and special ceremonies, she said.
“The camp is more about life and living than about death and dying,” said Senek. “We help kids experience a healing journey and also provide tools for dealing with their loss.”
Children from all geographic areas are eligible to participate in the camp.
Qualified staff and volunteers are carefully screened and trained in the grief process.
They spend time getting to know each child.
“Their stories break your heart, but it’s easy to become attached to the kids,” a camp volunteer said.
Senek said children who attend Camp Dragonfly leave the camp with renewed emotional strength.
“These kids return home from camp and head back to school wearing their Camp Dragonfly tee-shirts…it’s almost as if they are no longer afraid to acknowledge the death,” Senek said. “I really believe the connections they make at camp and the ability to share their feelings of sadness and grief with other children who ‘get it’ provides them with a new confidence they carry back into their everyday life. It’s like they’ve found their voice again, and this allows them to feel almost ‘normal.’”
Senek also noted that before the age of 15, one in 20 children will experience the death of a parent.
Many perceptions about childhood grief are inaccurate, she added.
“It is a misconception that children don’t feel a loss as keenly as adults, or that they don’t understand death, that they lack the experience to process grief, or that natural resiliency will help them bounce back,” Senek said.
The cost of the camp is $25.
Scholarships are available.
Children need not be Grayson County residents to participate. The deadline to apply to the camp is Sept. 5, 2012. Space is limited.
Applications are available on the Home Hospice website, www.homehospice.org or at the Home Hospice office, 505 W. Center Street in Sherman or 1001 E. Broadway in Gainesville.
Home Hospice, a non-profit organization, began delivering quality hospice and bereavement care in 1982.
For more information, contact Senek at (903) 868-9315 or toll free at (888) 233-7455.