Camp Sea Star, held annually at the Everglades Youth Conservation Camp in the J.W. Corbett Wildlife Center, is an adventure-based bereavement program facilitated by Hospice of Palm Beach County (HPBC).
The weekend retreat welcomes South Florida children ages 5 to18 who have experienced a loss and received bereavement support through HPBC. The camp allows time for sharing, support, celebration and fun, offering children a secure space and environment where they can meet other children like themselves who have lost a loved one, and realize they are not alone in their feelings of grief. Camp Sea Star is provided at no charge thanks to the generosity of donors.
“There's a tremendous curative factor in this group modality, in the sheer numbers. It really helps,” said Regina Di Pietro, HPBC’s senior director of clinical services. With HPBC’s recent expansion, the camp will also be offered to children living in the Broward community this July as part of Hospice of Broward County’s Bereavement Program.
While it may look like a traditional camp with children fishing, canoeing and toasting over a bonfire, every activity at Camp Sea Star has been designed with a specific purpose and cumulative effect towards the children’s healing process. Over the course of the weekend, music therapists visited with campers in their cabins to compose songs that paid tribute to the loved ones they lost.
“The counselors who created this program are highly skilled at integrating counseling support into the activities so that the process is virtually seamless to the children,” said Di Pietro.
Upon arrival, campers are asked to pick a personal totem of an animal that represents traits or goals that they hope to work on during the weekend.
“I drew a moose and a bear,” said 10-year old Brooke Dixon. “The moose is for confidence and the bear is for strength in myself.”
Three years ago, Brooke's mother died suddenly of a heart attack and Brooke came to this year’s Camp Sea Star to again face her grief, but this time, a support system embraced her as never before. “I’ve made so many friends here,” said the fourth grader of her favorite camp memories. “All the other kids here lost someone, too. It makes me realize I’m not alone.”
For more information about Camp Sea Star and Broward Camp Sea Star, contact 561-227-5178 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Photo: COURTESY OF HOSPICE OF PALM BEACH COUNTY
COUNSELING, AND MORE: More than 45 children and teens enjoyed Camp Sea Star, an adventure-based bereavement program facilitated annually by Hospice of Palm Beach County at the Everglades Youth Conservation Camp in the J.W. Corbett Wildlife Center. In July the camp will be offered to children living in Broward County.