Camp Jess helps children deal with adult issues As adults we are expected to deal with serious issues and often have discussions about them. Children are generally not included. But the reality is that children are often at the center of these issues, adult issues of: suicide, drugs, accidental death and long illnesses. At Sanford Hospice, they know that kids are often left out of discussions about death and grief. Their issues involving loneliness, sadness, guilt and depression have often been overlooked or thought of as insignificant. Children may also keep those feelings to themselves in fear of further burdening a grieving parent. Kids grieve a little differently than adults, â�?�?play timeâ�? and â�?�?time to be a kidâ�? are important parts of their growth and healing. As a child grows up and experiences different stages in their development, that grief will resurface and may need to be recognized many times over. Now, in your mind, picture a childâ�?�?s camp, chances are good that it includes activities involving, crafts, music and maybe even nature walks. Does that picture change if I tell you that this is a grief camp for kids, kids who have experienced a death in their family or of a close friend? It shouldnâ�?�?t, because these are just some of the fun activities that happen at Camp Jess. To deal with the issues of childhood grief, and to help children understand that these feelings are very natural, Sanford Hospice started Camp Jess. Camp Jess is a one-day camp experience, for children ages 6-14. This yearâ�?�?s camp (our 14th annual) will be held on Saturday, Sept. 13 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Wall Lake Girl Scout Camp, just a few miles west of Sioux Falls. A day at Camp Jess is a day dedicated solely to the children. Itâ�?�?s all about them, and their feelings. Mixed in with the â�?�?play timeâ�? are fun activities designed to promote healing and teach coping techniques. â�?�?Memory Pouches,â�? hold memories, small treasures and other symbols of their love. They may also hold a special picture of a parent, sibling or loved one. Letters are written to the one who died; many hold words of sadness, anger and loneliness. These letters are then â�?�?sentâ�? during a ceremonial bonfire. Teddy bears are hugged and tears are shed. But all the activities center on the individual child and their needs. One of the most helpful aspects of Camp Jess is the forming of friendships with other kids who have gone through similar experiences. Here are many ways that you can help Camp Jess. Your financial assistance is needed to run and promote Camp Jess. Besides promotional assistance the funds will help provide craft materials, books, teddy bears and food. Donations for children unable to afford camp are also needed. They can be sent to Sanford Hospice/Camp Jess in your local community, or to, 2710 W. 12th St. Sioux Falls, SD 57104. Your time and talents are needed at Camp Jess too. From helping serve lunch, working at a craft area or being a one-on-one volunteer with a camper, everyone is needed. Some jobs will require a training session. Please call for more information, 605-328-4440. Most importantly, if you have a child who would benefit from Camp Jess, please call. Registration is $25 per child with â�?�?campershipsâ�? available.
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