MOOSIC, LACKAWANNA COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) – Approximately 1.5 million children live in a single-parent household in the U.S. because of the death of a parent. That tragic loss takes a terrible mental toll on kids. A local summer camp aims to help ease the grieving process.
Camp Healing Hearts unites children coping with the loss of a family member with other children having the same feelings. Eyewitness News Healthbeat Reporter Mark Hiller checked out the activities campers are experiencing and how those activities are helping ease their grief.
A rousing rendition of “Roar” might not be what you’d expect to hear on Thursday from children coping with the loss of a parent or sibling. But it’s an important part of Camp Healing Hearts. “It’s really fun because we get to do fun activities,” said Stephannie Coronel. Having lost her father in January, the Scranton girl is attending the summer camp held by Hospice of the Sacred Heart Center for Education in Moosic. Stephannie said, “I work through the sadness by talking to someone about my feelings.”
The list is long concerning at-risk behaviors grieving children face compared to their non-grieving peers. Such things as depression and anxiety, poor school attendance and achievement, and drug and alcohol abuse along with other self-harm behaviors are serious concerns. Camp organizers consider the arts a significant tool to steer them toward a healthy closure. Hospice of the Sacred Heart Grief Counselor Jennifer Seechock said, “Ultimately our goal is to help these kids develop coping skills that they can use not only with their loss but also in other aspects of their life.”
Dance/Movement Artist Joanne Arduino guided the campers through songs and choreography they’ll perform on the final day of camp. “In their expression, singing and dancing I mean there’s also joy. They’re living their lives which is what their loved one would want them to do,” said Ms. Arduino.
Camp Volunteer Kylie Patrick said, “They’re doing things and they’re having fun but they’re also then in the back of their minds thinking about their loved one.” She and her sister Jordan lost their father in 2017. Campers last year, the Clarks Summit teenagers are camp volunteers this year who can relate. Jordan said, “Mostly like forming bonds with other, like, some other campers that were going through similar things.”
Three members of the Deiter family from Shavertown, whose dad died three years ago, are forming those bonds. “You can feel better about somebody you lost,” said Gordon Deiter. Healing hearts and giving campers hope. Camper Lucas Powell of Scranton said, “I can get through it and the day isn’t so hard.”
The five day camp will culminate with a memorial service which campers will design and present. That performance and exhibit is happening Friday afternoon at 3:30 at the Scranton Cultural Center.