[By Leigh Williams, Contributing Writer]
Children suffering with the grief that comes with the loss of a loved one learned they are not alone during the Second Annual Camp MAGIC on Saturday in Mt. Vernon.
The camp, which is sponsored and organized by SSM Hospice of Good Samaritan, gave children ages 5 to 12 activities and information to help them “openly express their feelings after the loss, while having their fears and concerns addressed.”
According to Lori Reynolds, SSM Hospice bereavement coordinator, the camp was an opportunity to bring together children and provide guidance through the grief process.
“They get to spend the day with other kids who are going through the same thing and can learn that they are not alone,” she said. Reynolds said Camp MAGIC, which is an acronym for Mending a Heart, Grief in Children, began in St. Louis where SSM is headquartered, and is expanding to other areas.
“At the camp, children will find new ways to identify and express their grief by participating in a variety of activities, some of which include making memory boxes, reading books and releasing butterflies,” according to information from SSM Hospice.
Activities on Saturday included arts and crafts, face painting, interactive activities and, of course, magic.
Children learned ways to express their feelings and positive coping skills with the help of trained volunteers who provided companionship, support and supervision throughout the day.
Barb Jones, of Mt. Vernon, brought her young daughter to the camp to help her deal with the loss of her father.
“It’s a way for her to be with other kids who are dealing with the same stuff,” Jones said. “She gets to learn that she’s not alone and be with other kids who have also lost someone they love.”
Parents, Mary Ellen and Kent ,learned of the camp through a friend and immediately thought the event could help their 11-year old daughter, Emma. Emma lost her grandfather, whom she called PaPa, three years ago. Mary Ellen said her daughter was “extremely close” to her PaPa and has struggled to deal with his death.
“[Camp MAGIC] is just a great thing,” she said. “We’re there for her but sometimes it takes another kid to really understand and here, every child knows what she is going through. They can all help each other.” SSM Hospice of the Good Samaritan’s Camp MAGIC was made possible by the SSM Hospice and Home Care Foundation. SSM Hospice of the Good Samaritan is located in Mount Vernon and serves the following counties in Southern Illinois: Clinton, Marion, Washington, Jefferson, Wayne, Edwards, Perry, Franklin and Hamilton.