MOOSIC, LACKAWANNA COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU-TV) — The pandemic caused quite an obstacle for a local summer camp which caters to kids dealing with the loss of a loved one. So organizers got creative to make sure the camp could still happen.
“When you get to the word “extra”, you’re going to glue the “Extra” onto your poster board,” Camp Healing Hearts artist Lisa Bath said.
It’s a lesson in making a candygram at Hospice of the Sacred Heart. The nearly dozen children learning that lesson are all participating online in what’s called “Camp Healing Hearts”. Each child camper is making a candygram for someone they loved who tragically is no longer with them.
“It’s helpful when they can share with each other. I can give them a couple sample sentences but what’s more important is what they are sharing,” Bath said.
That sharing has been done in person in years past. But due to COVID concerns, camp organizers decided virtually was the way to go.
“It’s really exceeded our expectations. We hoped it would work but it’s really exceeded our expectations,” Hospice of the Sacred Heart Couseling Services Director Jennifer Seechock said.
They took a page out of the school pandemic playbook this past spring when children had to learn virtually rather than in person.
“They’re used to this format. We’re not used to this format. How can we, you know, get ourselves to a place where we feel comfortable and then really go and teach these kids the coping skills that we try to do every year with them, ” Seechock said.
Kids like nine-year-old Caroline Dougher and her 11-year-old brother who made a candygram for their late father.
“I hope that he’s like looking down and like seeing the message and he’s reading it and thinking of me and Patrick,” Caroline said.
Conducting the camp virtually actually opened opportunity to a couple of campers. Because of travel distance, they wouldn’t have been able to participate otherwise. But each camper is able to share, learn skills, and work through their grief and know they are not alone.
“It’s helping me, it’s helping my family, it’s helping other people’s families,” camper Bradyn Lynch said.
Camp Healing Hearts continues through Friday with activities including painting, photography, and music and dance. Each camper will receive a flash drive featuring all of the work they’ve done this week.