OTTAWA — Children gathered at Ottawa Trinity United Methodist Church
last week for the Good Grief Fun Camp. They came from all over Putnam
County; some even came from surrounding counties. They all had one thing
in common — each had experienced the loss of a loved one.
camp, which was sponsored by Putnam County HomeCare & Hospice,
Pathways Counseling Center, Putnam County Educational Service Center,
and Ottawa Trinity United Methodist Church, began in 1998. This year, 33
children participated in the camp, which ran from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.,
“No one person is the same on their journey of grief,”
explained Julie Mason, the Medical Social Service and Bereavement
Coordinator at HomeCare & Hospice, and the coordinator of the camp.
“What it boils down to is that when a child is grieving, each one is
different in their pains and feelings.”
The children were able to
talk to trained counselors about their experience of losing their loved
ones. Some children had lost their loved one a number of years ago,
while some had suffered a recent loss. Participants expressed their
memories through creating a scrapbook, completing a book specially
designed to talk about their grief process, and a memory quilt.
Tobe, Prevention Coordinator from Pathways, related, “The neatest thing
is the kids supporting each other. They learn together that it’s all
OK. They all know what the others are going through.”
Grady Steffan, age 9, of Ottawa, shared his definition of grief.
“It’s when a loved one passes; it’s what you feel,” he said.
child added, “It’s ok to be happy, too. When a loved one suffers so
much, they don’t suffer any more (after they pass away).”
Maag, age 9, of Columbus Grove, whose father recently passed away,
disclosed, “My dad died of esophageal cancer. This helps me learn how
important my dad was. I’m pretty sure he wanted me to go here (to the
camp). Even though he’s up in heaven, he’s still my dad.”
campers also participated in fun activities. They created unique tie-dye
shirts and played games. They rode horses and did group activities at
Challenged Champions Equestrian Center, fished at the Leipsic Fishing
and Hunting Association and swam at the Putnam County YMCA.
far, this is the best part of my job,” Mason confirmed. “I watched the
children swimming today, like they didn’t have a care in the world. And
to think they have all this (their grief) on their shoulders.”
Parents were also appreciative of the camp.
three of my kids have gone through the program,” Jen Recker, of
Glandorf, commented. Recker’s six-year-old daughter, Savannah, attended
the camp this year. “The volunteers really help the kids with grief by
talking about it. They (the kids) are making good memories and learning
how to hang on to those memories.”
At the conclusion of the camp,
the children, their friends, and their relatives gathered in the
church’s sanctuary for a candle lighting ceremony to commemorate their
loved ones, and to view a slideshow of the week’s activities. They
proceeded outside to partake in an American Indian ritual of releasing
butterflies to take their wishes to their loved ones in Heaven.
can’t imagine not having this,” Mason concluded. “The numbers have been
very good. We will never cancel due to low attendance. We never turn
anyone away for their inability to pay.”