Camp Helps Bereaved Kids

By: Valerie Moore, Maywood, grandmother of children who attended Advocate Hospice’s Camp Bear Hugs
Published on August 04, 2015

Camp Bear Hugs

My mother was a patient of Advocate Hospice. Before she passed away, the staff let me know that they had grief support for all of us, including my grandchildren—her great-grandchildren. Two of them lived with us, and other great grandchildren were always around. The kids loved my mom so much. They would sit together and watch TV together. She would hide special snacks for them, and they would get such a kick out of that.

After she passed away, the children would talk about her occasionally, but only at obvious times—like when one of her favorite programs came on. I had a sense that there were a lot of feelings they weren’t expressing, so when Advocate Hospice called to remind me about Camp Bear Hugs for kids, I signed them up. Two of my grandkids, Destiny, age 11, Kyshaun, age 10 and their cousin, Jazzlyn, age 9, all attended Camp Bear Hugs—and they haven’t stopped talking about it!

They loved making the memory bears. They used one of their great-grandmother’s housecoats—a great choice because that’s what she wore just about all the time. The children also talked a lot about what fun they had those two days. Listening in as they talked to each other about the experience, I learned that one of the things they enjoyed most was having what they called “personal people,” the camp’s adult volunteer “buddies.” A buddy is assigned to each child to ensure that all campers get one-on-one attention. My grandkids and niece loved this!

I am so happy my family had this camp as a resource for the children. My grandkids have not stopped talking about it. Best of all, since the camp, they have opened up their feelings about losing their great grandmother—and shared how much they miss her.