Pathways of Hope at Ohio’s Hospice of Dayton hosted its 27th annual Camp Pathways, June 21-23, at Camp Joy Outdoor Education Center in Clarksville, Ohio. Camp Pathways is a bereavement camp for youth, ages 7-17, who have experienced the death of a parent, sibling or significant loved one. The camp experience is designed to encourage campers to express their feelings of grief in a safe and fun environment.
For the weekend, campers were surrounded by a caring community that gave them the opportunity to interact with other children and teens who are grieving the loss of a loved one. Each camper was paired with an adult buddy who supported them through their grief while at camp.
In addition to activities to help them better understand their grief, the children and teens swam, fished, canoed and participated in a high ropes course, field games, climbing wall and challenge hike. This year, campers also decorated wooden frames in remembrance of their loved ones.
The grief work culminated with the wish ceremony on Saturday night where campers were invited to write messages to their loved ones that were read aloud by the adult buddies then placed into the fire to symbolize the message being released to their loved ones. The ceremony served as a time for reflection, comfort and support with the goal of inspiring hope and healing in campers.
“Campers discover they are not alone in their grief experiences, and the adult buddies offer hope that grief is survivable and life can be good again. This is what makes Camp Pathways so special,” said Lisa Conn, camp director and bereavement counseling professional at Pathways of Hope. “Camp Pathways exists due to the generous support from our community, including 55 volunteers who served as buddies and group leaders for the weekend.”