In the spring of 2001, Good Shepherd Hospice hosted its first Camp Brave Heart. This annual weekend retreat allows children living in Polk, Highlands and Hardee counties, ages 6 to 17, who experienced the death of a loved one to work through their grief.
For close to 48 hours, children are able to reconnect and enjoy life again. Even if the loved one was not a patient under Good Shepherd Hospice care, any child can attend Camp Brave Heart.
How Camp Brave Heart Helps
Throughout the camp weekend at the Circle F. Dude Ranch in Lake Wales, Florida, trained Good Shepherd Hospice bereavement counselors are present along with a full-time registered nurse, other staff and dedicated community volunteers. In fact, anyone that volunteers at the camp comes away from the weekend with a total sense of accomplishment for the supportive healing provided to the campers.
Attendees participate in traditional camp activities such as swimming, arts and crafts and team sports. However, there are specific exercises built into the weekend that help the campers cope with grief and re-build trust and self-awareness. For instance, lakeside on Saturday evening, there is a moving memorial service designed to provide healing and closure opportunities for the campers.
Although on the surface the camping challenges may seem recreational, all have a therapeutic component that helps kids develop coping skills to manage their grief. In addition, peer-to-peer interaction with others of the same age who experienced the loss of a loved one assists the children with the grieving process, i.e. they don’t feel alone in their sorrow.
Click here to watch our Camp Brave Heart video.
Based on family income, there is a sliding registration fee from $1 to $25, but otherwise the weekend is free of charge. Round-trip bus transportation to the camp leaves from the Good Shepherd Hospice office in Auburndale and Sebring. Children are accepted to participate in camp based on appropriateness and availability. Following the interview, families will be notified as to each camper’s status regarding camp registration and attendance. Space is limited and fills on a first-come, first-serve basis.
The 17th annual Camp Brave Heart was held on Friday, April 6 to Sunday, April 8, 2018.
If you’re interested in volunteering at Camp Brave Heart, please visit the Children’s Camp Volunteers page for more information and to complete the volunteer application.
To learn more about Camp Brave Heart, the Bethany Center and the grief support provided by Good Shepherd Hospice to residents in Polk, Highlands and Hardee counties and other services, please call our helpful Good Shepherd Hospice team at either 863.968.1707 or toll-free at 1.800.464.3994 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.