Camp Woe-Be-Gone Helps Grieving Children
By Christal Searcy
Big Bend Hospice and the Challenger Learning Center of Tallahassee held a free one-day camp for children 6-12- years of age on April 25. The camp’s primary goal is to help children explore safe ways to cope with the loss of a loved one.
Big Bend Hospice is known for providing compassionate care to individuals with a life limiting illness and comfort to their families. But another important part of its mission is to provide emotional support to anyone that has experienced the death of someone special, whether or not they used hospice medical services.
Pam Mezzina, a bereavement service manager at Big Bend Hospice, started the camp.
“We’ve actually had a children’s bereavement camp for years in different locations. But after the Challenger Learning Center opened here in Tallahassee in 2003, they were actually airing a documentary on it and talking about the mission of the Challenger-how it was built by the family members of the Challenger astronauts as a living memorial,” Mezzina said.
“At that point, the missions were so similar and there’s a little saying that says ‘you’re helping people turn scars into stars. ’ Once I saw that we came to the Challenger and Susan Borland talked to us and she thought it was a great idea. We’ve been partnering since 2004 to build this Grief Odyssey bereavement and it is alive and well,” added Mezzina.
The camp’s mission was to explore the inner and outer spaces of the children’s lives since their loved one died. The camp allowed children to listen to others stories, feelings and thoughts about having a loved one die.
Greg Burns a volunteer for seven years of the free one-day camp believes it’s beneficial.
“This is an opportunity for these children to be with other kids who have experienced the same thing they have-a death of someone very close to them. Here they can be kids but also to process their grief,” Burns said.