NEW PORT RICHEY — Losing a loved one is always difficult, especially for youngsters who may not fully understand the situation. A local outreach center created a program to help children with the emotions that they can have when someone close to them has passed away.
The Gulfside’s Bereavement and Community Outreach Center held a Mending Hearts Bereavement Kids Camp.
“Moody Mountain Range” served as the theme. The camp was designed like a map, and each destination focused on a certain emotion that a child goes through while grieving the loss of a loved one.
The 16 campers, ages 6 to 12, visited stations throughout the map including Worry Waterfall, Mad Canyon, Teary Valley, and Happy Mountain.
The children participated in a variety of crafts and activities while on their adventure.
At Teary Mountain, they painted a ceramic pot in honor of their loved one who passed away, and then filled the pots with soil and a flower with assistance from a Port Richey Home Depot worker, John Lamm.
At Happy Mountain, they focused on having fun by making their own ice cream sundaes and having a water balloon fight.
At the end of the trip, the children released balloons in memory of their departed loved ones. Each child wrote a note to their loved one and attached it to the balloon.
Karl Knox, the director of bereavement, said the camp shows the kids that there are other children dealing with losing someone they love.
“We like to have a time when we can bring young children together just to give them an experience and a chance to grieve,” Knox said. The range of emotions that the children were walked through is beneficial because Karl believes that “children tend to grieve in doses.”
The best advice to give children who are grieving the loss of a loved one is “there are no wrong emotions,” Knox emphasized.
Christine DePriest has three sons who have been involved with Gulfside’s bereavement programs in the past such as overnight camps and teen nights.
“They’ve been tremendous with helping my kids,” DePriest said. “They help explain it way better than I ever could.”
Gulfside’s Bereavement and Community Outreach Center offers a variety of free programs and events for all ages, including counseling and support groups for young people who grieve over a loss.
During October, Gulfside’s Mending Hearts Children’s Bereavement Program will offer two family nights in East and West Pasco. Contact Kelly Cavagnetto, children’s activity coordinator for Gulfside Hospice, at (727) 844-3946 for more information.
Cavagnetto said that the camp shows the children that other kids their age are going through the same emotions. “They are not the only kids feeling this way,” Cavagnetto said.
Gulfside’s Bereavement and Community Outreach Center is at 6224 Lafayette St. The phone number is (727) 844-3946.