Camp Dragonfly Fall 2012Camp Dragonfly continues to grow and evolve to meet so many special needs for grieving children. Most of the camp volunteers would agree this was definitely one of our most emotionally charged groups. Seventeen children show up, a bond is formed and the healing truly begins for each one of them. We began the weekend learning some new games that allowed us all to be silly together, relax a bit and get to know each other. Saturday revealed some had tears that they never thought would stop, while others arrived closed and reticent to participate in any remembering exercise. Through the gentleness of our volunteers and the kids concern for each other, we watched these children unfold, turn corners and find their smile again. Some just needed to cry, letting their grief find a way out, while others took the opportunity to tell their story. Sunday came and the kids headed out to the Challenge Course where they learned to work together in order to move forward to the next challenge. As always, we leave camp tired and a bit haggard, but with a smile in our hearts knowing that in some way each child has been given an opportunity to find their voice, their smile and the courage to move forward. Thank you to our volunteers and the generous donors who made camp possible.
Here is one story:
A 9 year old boy arrived at camp, cute kid, sweet spirit, but full of tears, sadness and devastation. As we began the remembering exercise, his body language changed to show anxiety as he waited his turn and then the tears came with no end in sight. Despite the tears, this courageous guy participated, allowed himself to explore his feelings and never once worried about the tears that were flowing. Later that day, we then had the children write a memory letter to their loved one, informing them that no one would read this letter - it was just between the camper and their loved one.
My guy sat there surveying those around him and initially fighting the tears while others began writing their letter. The tears once again took over and my guy continued to sit there with his pencil and paper making no move to write a letter. The other children completed their letters and eventually left the room quietly, respectfully. I then joined my guy and we talked about who he had lost, what he missed about the person and how the thought of facing special days without that loved one was more than my guy could bear. After time and with my guy's permission I wrote down some things he said and eventually my guy took part and was able to write something down. We then folded the letter and walked back to the cabins with my guy's tears gradually becoming less and less.
We made it to the memory camp fire later that evening and when it was my guy's turn he courageously stood up and put his letter in the fire and watched as the message was symbolically carried to his loved one. No tears this time, just a strong little guy taking part in the ceremony. As he watched the others put their letters in, he was aware of the emotions and understood the tears that others were shedding that night. One girl was having a difficult time after placing her letter in the fire and my guy quietly got up, came over to me and said quietly "I'll go get her some napkins."
My heart smiles thinking of this moment because for my guy he had truly come full circle that night and it was evident in his care and concern for those around him.
Jolene Senek, LBSW, CT, GC-C
October 12th 2012