This summer camp will let kids share grief, joy
By PAUL FEELY
New Hampshire Union Leader | June 15. 2013 10:24PM
"I'm so excited that they are bringing this to New Hampshire because it's such an important piece of going through the process of grief," said Lisa Cramb-Dudley of New Boston, whose daughter Meghan has attended Circle Camp in Maine the last five years. "It's hard enough for a parent, but as a kid to deal with all of the feelings and emotion, it's very difficult. It's important for them to have other kids to talk to, who when they say they know how you're feeling they really know how they're feeling."
"We also know the value of helping children talk about the losses in their lives," said Welch. "We bring them together so our campers can have summer days of childhood fun, meaning and bonding."
The camp features the "circle" on opening day, at which kids talk about their parent, and the "rock ceremony" on the last day, when they lay memorial stones, each with a message to the deceased parent, around a newly planted tree. There is also a scavenger hunt, an Olympics event and a talent show.
Spear added: "Most kids feel as though they don't know anyone who has lost a parent, and it makes them feel isolated and different from their peers. And that makes it hard to talk about it with other kids.
Meghan and Alyssa Cramb of New Boston lost their father, David, five years ago this weekend when he died of a heart attack during an annual road race in 2008.
Both girls - Meghan was 9, Alyssa 14 - were running the race with their dad when he collapsed. He was 47.
Cramb-Dudley said Meghan was receiving services from the Good Grief program of Home Health and Hospice in Merrimack when she was referred to Spear and the Circle Camp program.
"The first trip there, I left early because I got homesick really bad," said Meghan. "I came home on Wednesday. But even if you are scared at first, we all usually leave in tears because we don't want to go home."
Meghan said she appreciated the grief-related activities.
She noted one in which campers wrote messages to the parent they had lost, and the messages were weighted down, taken out onto a lake by boat and dropped into the water.
Cramb-Dudley has since remarried and remains in New Boston with her husband, Mark Dudley.
"They are both 'typical' teenagers in all aspects of their lives, but for the fact that they experienced and are ever aware of the loss of their dad," said Cramb-Dudley. "The peer connections they've made through Circle Camp are as integral to their well-being as family, friends and their communities. Maybe more so in some ways."
For referrals or more information, contact Lexy Heatley and Jennifer Maynard, co-directors, at firstname.lastname@example.org, or Cathy Spear, licensed social worker and director of camper services, at email@example.com.