Camp T.R. Helps Children Cope with Grief

Fifteen children grieving the loss of a loved one received encouragement and support at Camp T.R. this June.

Held at Hashawha Environmental Center in Westminster, each year the free weekend camp helps children ages 7 to 15 with a mix of traditional camp events and grief activities, says bereavement counselor Jessica Roschen, who lead the camp’s activities with bereavement counselor Megan Buddemeyer. This year, campers had the support of 34 junior and adult volunteers who helped throughout the weekend.

Campers participated in a candle lighting ceremony to remember and honor loved ones lost.

This year’s wet weather didn’t put a damper on the activities, according to Roschen, and in some cases enhanced them. For example, campers usually perform a candle lighting ceremony in memory of their loved ones on Saturday evening.

Although the rain put a halt on outdoor activities, the campers were able to gather in the camp’s cafeteria building and use its huge fireplace for the candle lighting — and to roast marshmallows as well. Afterward, the campers participated in a huge dance party in the building. They also took part in a drumming group and watched students perform a play about grief under the instruction of Francis Scott Key High School teacher Roberta Gore.

Discussing the size of grief is one of the activities featured annually at the camp. Bereavement counselors compare balls of various sizes as a visual aid to grief that is felt after a loss. In its first stage, grief is a big red ball. The ball is oversized and hard to physically wrap ones arms around, just as grief can be overwhelming in the beginning, says Roschen. Through the exercise, the grief is compared to balls of descending size until the last is symbolized as a marble, and each camper is given one to remember that one day their grief will be that manageable size.

“The grief activities allow them to open up and share their feelings and memories, understand the importance of tears and learn healthy ways to cope with the pain,” says Roschen.

Camp T.R. is held the first weekend in June each year. For more information, please call 410-871-8000 or visit our website.

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