WEBSTER COUNTY, Ky. (9/4/13) - For twenty years St. Anthony’s Hospice’s “A Special Kind of Camping” program has been quietly working to help the children of this area. Most people know St. Anthony’s for the hospice care they provide to terminally ill patients in Henderson, Webster and Union, but they provide a lot more services than that. Their care for the survivors is another important aspect.
The aim is to address the needs of children and adolescence who have suffered a significant loss. Any child in the three county region suffering signs of loss is eligible for the camp, said Jennifer Phillips, a camp coordinator and social worker for St. Anthony’s Hospice.
In the past they have even accepted children from counties that didn’t have such a program.
“We try not to turn anyone away,” Phillips said.
When it started twenty years ago the bereavement camp was unique. It wasn’t the only one of its kind in the state, but the others were mostly in larger cities.
In the beginning the camp was an actual camp, where children (K-12) came and spent the night. In the years since liability issues have shortened the camp to an all day event, but counselors do their best to get as much into that one day as possible.
“We rotate fun sessions and serious sessions throughout the day,” said Phillips. “Kids can only deal with so much grieving at once, so we give them time to have fun.”
The program is underwritten by the Walaskay family of Henderson, so it is free for anyone who wishes to attend. Phillips said that they only ask that you call ahead to register. The phone number is 270-826-2326.
The camp has moved several times through the years. This year it will be at Camp Clark in Dixon on September 14, from 9:30 a.m. until 6:00 p.m.
“This year there will also be an adult retreat,” said Phillips. “We hope having both events will help with the attendance for each. Parents often overlook themselves and their needs.”
Parents and guardians who do not spend the day at the camp are welcomed to come back in the evening for a family project and the closing ceremonies.
The children used to release balloons as part of the ceremony, but because of environmental issues they have switched in recent years to releasing butterflies.
J-E News Editor
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