Camp Provides Support System for Kids

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Most of the kids at Camp I Believe were strangers last Friday, but you wouldn't know it if you saw them Sunday afternoon.

The group spent the weekend at a camp in Marianna, Fla. created for children who have lost a close family member.

Ten-year-old Lexi Pollard is already looking forward to coming back to Camp I Believe next year.

"I like, getting to talk to people about how I feel and getting to meet new people," she said.

Since she first arrived last summer, her parents say she's more open about the death of her great-grandma.

"Say they lost a parent in February, and they come back in June or July, they're not open," camp Co-Director Andy Glover said. "They're not really willing to open up. But the next year, they're more open to talk about it."

Lexi is one of 38 kids who spent the weekend with grief counselors and other kids her age, dealing with the loss of a loved one.

"The most special part is seeing them open up and being able to identify with what they're feeling and being able to express that," Co-Director Jason Adams said. "And to begin to see a little healing take place."

Organizers say kids process death differently than adults. They say kids often express grief through art or play.

"It's wonderful to see them grow through it and leave here with some skills that they can take home," Sally Kapusciak, a social worker who works at the camp, said.

Kapusciak says it's important for children to have outlets outside of their immediate family.

In Lexi's case, it was a weekend in the woods.

"If I feel like I can't talk to my parents about something, I can come here and talk to my counselors," Lexi said.

Emerald Coast Hospice holds Camp I Believe every summer, and it's free to sign up. For more information, you can visit Gentiva.com and search for "Camp I Believe."


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