seastar_web.jpgFORT LAUDERDALE – South Florida children and teens gathered recently for a weekend of sharing stories and paying tribute to those they have loved and lost during the inaugural Camp SeaStar in Broward County held at Hugh Taylor Birch State Park.

The adventure-based bereavement program facilitated by Hospice of Broward County welcomed local children ages 6 to 18 who have experienced a loss and received grief support in the hospice’s care, and was provided free of charge to the campers who attended.

Camp SeaStar is a fun-filled weekend of friendship and healing with counseling woven into traditional camp activities such as fishing, canoeing, campfire, arts and crafts and games, officials said.  It provides a safe and supportive environment for children where they can understand their feelings of loss, find healthy ways to express them and connect with other children who know what it feels like to lose someone they love.

“With adventure-based counseling, we offer grieving children the opportunity to express their feelings and tap into their inner strengths through interactive challenges, trust-based activities and cooperative games,” said Regina Di Pietro, senior director of Clinical Services for Hospice of Broward County and Hospice of Palm Beach County.

“It was an honor to watch the teens achieve emotional breakthroughs during a particular team-building challenge, where the group must cross an imaginary ‘gator-filled’ river together,” said Chelsea Johnson, supportive care manager.

“It touched our hearts to watch one special young lady, as she verbalized her frustrations with the grief process. At the end of the challenge, she tearfully explained that having a grief counselor was like having a ‘river angel’ to help her navigate through her river of grief.

“Yet this was just one of many moments like it,” Johnson added. “I cannot express how great the need is in our community to provide clinical grief support for young children and teens. It is largely an unaddressed need, and one that has opportunity to heal such great pain in our young people.”

For more information about Camp SeaStar in Broward and Palm Beach Counties contact Chelsea Johnson at 561-227-5178 or email

Photo courtesy of Hospice of Broward County