For one week during June, 2008, I and 22 Human Development and Psychology students, in collaboration with Unity Hospice, once again fulfilled my dream of holding a day camp experience for children who had lost a loved one. Although the number of so-called “grief camps” is gradually increasing, they largely are volunteer driven by community adults and hospice workers. Our model for the camp involves having Human Development students serve as the “counselors.” We have just finished our third season, and as in the past, this turned out to be a phenomenal learning experience for all of us, with some students deciding to go into community mental health and bereavement counseling programs as a result of their participation. During the fall semester, students who were interested went through an application and interview process before being selected for the counselor/internship program. Once selected, students were required to enroll in my “Dying, Death, and Loss.” They also signed up for three internship credits, were given a Camp Lloyd syllabus, a reading list and were also required to attend four training sessions in the evening during the spring, 2008 semester prior to the beginning of camp. During the week of camp students fully participated in all of the typical camp activities (e.g., scavenger hunts, hikes, swimming, arts & crafts, eating) and observed the daily grief activities led by Unity Hospice grief counselors. This year our camp enrolled 16 children-most were there because either a parent or sibling had died. Each of our campers were assigned one (some had two) of our students as their special “buddy;” this is one of the best features of the camp.
Camp Lloyd proved to be one of the most profound learning experiences that I had ever offered to my students. Not only did their reading, lectures and discussion jump to vivid life, but they also learned to play again, observe counseling at its finest, and see the impact of their attention and caring concern on young children. Please check out our website at www.uwgb.edu/camplloyd.
If you are interested in being an intern/counselor for Camp Lloyd 2009, please fill out the application which is due no later than October 31, 2008. We will then contact you for an interview. This year, camp will be a full day experience for a week, and we will only select about 15 students to be interns/counselors. Applications can be found on the Camp Lloyd website.