Tuesday, May 24, 2011

State of the Heart Hospice Gears Up for Camp BEARable

 Pictured is Emily Jasenski.
Children grieve differently from adults which is why Camp BEARable has a mix of fun, games and serious dialogue during the agency’s annual Camp BEARable. The camp which is free and open to all youth grieving the loss of a loved one will be held July 22-24 at the Spiritual Center at Maria Stein.

“There is a variety of ways that provide a fun experience and at the same time, help the children deal with their issues about loss,” explained Marlene Black, State of the Heart Bereavement Specialist and Camp Director. This year, Emily Jasenski who along with her husband C.J., owns and operates elementsLife, 620 S. Broadway in Greenville, will provide a new aspect for camp.

“We will be doing some guided imagery for the youth at camp,” said Jasenski, a certified instructor, who has done guided imagery. She explained that guided imagery may be something like asking the children to pretend they are on an underwater voyage, accompanied by their deceased loved one. “This is playful and colorful and helps the child remove themselves from their current situation in life. Later, when they return home from the camp, they can recall a positive playful experience they had, particularly on days when they are feeling the loss of their loved one.”

Black said the idea of guided imagery is a good one as it mixes fun with a way to revisit a positive experience. “If they are having a day when they are feeling sad, they can think back to something positive that they experienced at camp, such as the guided imagery.”

Jasenski said there are other ideas to help the youth. “We might try a time travel game, either going back in time, or going forward. All ages seem to like these kinds of games which are very helpful. These games and ideas help them to tap into their emotions and express themselves.”
Children who attend the camp, which is being held for the eleventh year, say they enjoy the camp as they find it to be a “safe environment” where they can talk openly with others about their grief.
“They find out that they are not alone in their grief, and begin to express how they feel,” Black said. Each child has a specially trained adult “buddy” who spends time with them.

Camp is for children ages six to 15 and there need be no association with hospice care. Most who have attended in the past have no connection with State of the Heart Hospice care. The children experience a welcome Friday night with a campfire which is repeated Saturday night. On Sunday afternoon, they participate in a balloon launch, attaching messages to loved ones and sending the balloons into the air.

Hospices nationwide conduct similar camps. Bereavement specialists believe that early intervention with grieving children can prevent problems later in life. State of the Heart cares for families and patients in eastern Indiana and western Ohio who are confronting a life limiting illness.

It is necessary to register for the camp which normally hosts about 50 youth. Applications are available at the agency website, www.stateoftheheartcare.org. Acceptance is on a first come, first served basis. Applications are also available by visiting the agency’s offices in Greenville, Portland and Coldwater. Volunteers are needed for camp as well. To register or find out about volunteering, call Black at 1-800-417-7535.

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