Hospice holding overnight grief camp for youth this weekend

August 5, 2022 | 12:07 am

Updated August 4, 2022 | 3:13 pm

Caleb Potter

Hospice of Western Kentucky is the first organization in the state to host Camp Erin, the largest national bereavement program for youth grieving the death of a significant person in their lives. Funding and training has been provided to host the camp for the 3 years, though Hospice officials hope to keep the program going much longer.

Camp Erin is one of the programs created by the Eluna Network, a nationwide bereavement program. According to the Camp Erin site, “Children and teens ages 6-17 attend a transformational weekend camp that combines traditional, fun camp activities with grief education and emotional support, free of charge for all families. Led by grief professionals and trained volunteers, Camp Erin provides a unique opportunity for youth to increase levels of hope, enhance self-esteem, and especially to learn that they are not alone.”

Hospice Bereavement Coordinator Caleb Potter said theirs is the first organization in Kentucky that has been selected to host Camp Erin.

“It’s an honor that I was not even prepared to receive because we had just been told there’s a good chance that we wouldn’t be selected because so many organizations are vying for this,” Potter said. “So I was completely shocked and incredibly grateful for the opportunity to offer our community a little bit more in-depth grief support than what we’ve been able to offer in the past.”

Potter said they have 36 campers lined up to attend.

“Some of them have had a loved one pass away under Hospice care,” he said. “Others have been referred to us by the school systems or other counseling agencies across the area. We’ve got kids coming from as far as Louisville.”

The camp will be held at the Gasper River Catholic Youth Camp & Retreat Center in Bowling Green.

“Gasper River fortunately has a ton of big-energy activities like big zip lines and a 42-foot pendulum swing,” Potter said. “We’ll be spending a bunch of time with a kid where we educate them on grief — what’s normative to the grieving process, what’s helpful to do, giving them opportunities to memorialize their loved one. We’ll spend lots of time talking, but also lots of time playing and goofing off.”

The camp is fully funded on a 3-year grant cycle for selected organizations, and Eluna also provides training and support during that time. So, Hospice will be able to run the camp for the first 3 years at no cost and with help.

Some organizations choose to just only host the camp for the 3 years that they receive funding. Potter said some organizations, though, find that the camp is so well-received in the community that they continue to host it even though they have to raise the funds for it themselves.

He hopes Hospice falls into the later category.

“We have every intention of this being something that we carry on for years, hopefully decades for,” Potter said. “The reception has been great so far.”

August 5, 2022 | 12:07 am

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