STORY BY DAVID PENA | PHOTOS FURNISHED BY HOSPICE SAVANNAH & DREAM WEAVER PHOTOS
Hospice Savannah’s annual camp has been helping children cope with death for more than 20 years.
Dealing with the loss of a family member or close friend is undoubtedly one of the most painful experiences that we all have to face in life. In addition to the inevitable grief involved, there is a whole gamut of emotions that comes with it, which can often include guilt, regret, shock and even anger. This can be especially difficult for a child who may not have the tools needed to cope with such an intense, traumatic event. Thus, for the past 22 years, Hospice Savannah has held an annual retreat for children ages 6-17. Camp Aloha helps provide much needed support and grief counseling for young people who have experienced the death of a loved one. Jennifer Fell, a school counselor and camp volunteer said, “I’ll be returning for my ninth year this May, and I love the fact that the camp offers a safe place for children to process their grief. They learn coping skills,
chatham county living
make new friends, share memories and have fun doing it.” The camp takes place every year during the first weekend in May at New Ebenezer Retreat on the Savannah River in Rincon. It is open to any child residing in Chatham, Bryan, Long, Effingham and Liberty counties, who has experienced the death of a loved one within the last 24 months. From Friday evening to Sunday afternoon, about 60 trained volunteers and bereavement counselors meet with as many as 90 children to help them cope with their loss. “At camp they learn that they’re not the only ones who are feeling this way; they’re a part of a group who is experiencing the same things they are,” said Barbara Moss, a bereavement counselor with Hospice Savannah’s Full Circle Grief and Loss Center. Camp Aloha was primarily designed to help children find their own healthy ways to deal