Lantern1When Tobias arrived at Capital Caring’s Point of Hope Camp in Fredericksburg, Virginia, earlier this summer, the 12-year-old didn’t quite know what to expect from a “grief camp.” As he painted a lantern in memory of his dad, Tobias shared openly about how much he missed his dad teaching him how to cook.

“Point of Hope Camp is a huge part of Tobias’ recovery,” his family recently told us. “Before camp, Tobias was struggling with his self-worth and we didn’t notice his cries for help.  Now we have a completely different boy.”

For nearly two decades, Capital Caring has sought to embrace grieving children, teens, and adults by offering loving support at local Point of Hope Camps held annually throughout our service area. While each Point of Hope Camp varies in its offerings, all activities are designed to be fun and to help campers work through the grief process by building trust, self-esteem, and skills to cope with recent loss. Thanks to generous donors, sponsors, and friends of Capital Caring, costs for each participant are fully covered.

Thanks to the generosity of Sylvan Learning, the Fredericksburg neighborhood offered another chance this summer for children to express their grief and meet other children at our Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (S.T.E.M.) camp.  While children were engaged in the S.T.E.M. programming, Capital Caring’s bereavement counseling staff and trained bereavement volunteers encouraged discussions among the children about their favorite memories of their loved ones and how they are coping with their loss.

We are so grateful to Sylvan Learning of Fredericksburg for awarding $3,237 worth of academic sessions to 3 deserving applicants who are struggling academically due to their grief of losing a parent or a sibling. Local Sylvan owner Scott Lindsey offered this scholarship in memory of his 15-year-old nephew, Kevin, and Kevin’s brother, who struggled in school after losing his brother.

Capital Caring knows these bereavement programs meet a pressing community need, since, according to a national average, 1 in 7 children will lose a parent or a sibling before the age of 20. Capital Caring’s bereavement programs help our hospice patients’ families and are open to anyone in the community who is struggling with loss. It is our goal to educate the community about grief, engage the community in a conversation, and invite people to remember their loved ones.

If you would like more information about our community bereavement program offerings, including the current month’s listing of meetings and camps, please visit the Point of Hope Counseling page on our website.

Tips for helping a child who is grieving the loss of a loved one:

“Don’t be afraid to talk about it.” We’ve learned that awareness is the first step to moving forward, and to healing and growing in healthy ways.
“Expressing your feelings is cathartic.” It’s okay to feel it. Children, especially, feel alone after a death, and often do not want to talk about feelings because they feel that will upset the family even more. We know that teaching children that it’s good to talk about how they feel is really helpful.
Resiliency can be learned.” Resiliency often comes through connections. These connections can be with family, but can also be through community and interactions with peers. Strong connections foster a sense of safety and physical and emotional security.
“Sharing is different for everyone.” We experience life differently, so we all have our own creative way to express ourselves; sharing verbally, through art, and many other means of expression.