“I left in tears after dropping them off at the camp as it was equally emotional for me,” Molly Jackson said. “We had not even pulled out of the parking lot from camp that day when both kids said they wanted to return next year. They talked about it all the way home. Hearing how the kids bonded with their camp leaders reassured me that it was the right decision to sign them up for Camp Healing Heart,” she said.
Sponsored by Carle Hospice and funded through Carle Health Center for Philanthropy and Women’s Legacy Circle, Camp Healing Heart provides a safe and caring environment for children ages 5 to 17 who experienced the death of a loved one or friend. On hold for two years due to the pandemic, the overnight camp is returning as a one-day event, from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Oct. 1 at the 4-H Memorial Camp in Monticello. The program is a free service to the community.
“Children have little life experience and moving through the grief process is difficult with lifelong effects,” Elizabeth Rieke, social worker at Carle Hospice, said.
Children and teens who attend experience the following:
- The comfort of knowing they’re not alone.
- The permission to grieve, remember and talk about the loved one who died.
- Healthy coping skills.
- Methods to understand and express their feelings.
- An opportunity to share their feelings of isolation, which are common in the grieving process.
- Support in a safe, structured environment while facilitating the grief work necessary for healing.
“The camp closes with a program where kids are invited to write a letter to share about the loved ones they lost. In 2019, both Faith and Brandon were too shy to do so but to hear the letters and stories from some of the campers about the loved one they lost helped them realize they were not alone in this process,” Molly Jackson said.
She said she is blessed with good friends and Carle coworkers like Kate Morgan, who suggested Camp Healing Heart. Both women live in the community of St. Joseph and Kate’s daughter was in the same graduating class as her daughter, Tara. “Both grandchildren bring so much joy and after camp, it is much easier to ask them to open up about their mommy when the time is right as they now have a better understanding of the emotions they are feeling,” Jackson said.
Faith is now 13 and Brandon is 10. “The memory boxes Brandon and Faith created at camp in 2019 hold a special place in their rooms today,” Jackson said.
For more information, call (217) 902-3301 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to request an application or brochure.