‘Camp I Believe’ set for grieving kids

Camp to give grieving kids chance for expression, fun

If you’re close to a grieving child, letting them and their family know about “Camp I Believe” could be one of the biggest helps you give.

“Camp I Believe” is a no-cost, three-day respite providing both peer support and expert help to children and teens who have experienced the death of a loved one. It’s a weekend of fun, expression and even a little escape, scheduled for Oct. 7-9 at Camp Lake Stephens.
And, again, it’s free, thanks to Kindred Gentiva Hospice Foundation and local sponsors, including Coleman Funeral Home.
Christie Perkins, volunteer services manager for Gentiva Hospice in 14 counties of North Mississippi, heads up the local camp. She said it’s been done at Camp Lake Stephens for several years now and “will place an emphasis on strong clinical programming and community engagement, with camp activities and programming that enable campers to express feelings and tell their story in a safe environment.”
The application for the camp offers parents or guardians a chance to provide detailed information so staff members and volunteers can adapt to each child’s specific needs.
“There’s a three-to-one camper to camp counselor ratio,” Perkins said. “Activities place an emphasis on personal growth through creative expression and through establishing positive relationships with other children who have also experienced loss of loved ones.”
The weekend is not all about grief and loss, though. As is common for camps children with specific needs, most of the children who come to Camp I Believe also attend for the opportunity to have fun and to feel “normal” again.
“Outdoor activities are an important part of experiencing Camp I Believe, including a ropes course, canoeing, and campfires,” Perkins said. The early-fall weather should make the woods and water of Camp Lake Stephens particularly enjoyable.
Volunteers from the general public are essential. Group leaders are non-technical personnel who’ll accompany several campers throughout the two nights and two days of the camp. Grief counselor assistants are also non-professionals and help set up and execute activities under direction of trained counselors.
More specialized volunteers are also needed, such as a master’s-level grief counselor, a camp nurse and a camp photographer.
Applications for both campers and volunteers are still being accepted. Camper applications are available online at https://www.gentiva.com/pdf/camps/MS%20Oxford%202016%20Camp%20I%20Believe%20Camper%20Application.pdf.
To learn more about Camp I Believe or to request a volunteer application, please contact Christie Perkins at 662-234-0140 or [email protected].

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