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During the weeks of June 25 through June 28 and August 6 through 9, twenty-five children from Berks County, ages seven to eleven, gathered for Camp Connect. Each bereavement camp was held for four days, designed for children coping with the loss of a loved one. Twenty volunteer counselors led by Dr. Melody Shoemaker, BCIU Act 89 Psychologist, and Patricia Brenner, Kutztown University, Counseling and Student Affairs, facilitated all camp activities.
The four days were filled with fun activities, art, music, and games combined with grief education and emotional support. Children were able to be with others their own age who were also grieving, learn ways to identify and express painful motions, and develop new skills to cope with their grief. On the final day of each camp, everyone enjoyed a tour of First Energy Stadium, which ended with a special ceremony in center field where the children honored their loved ones.
Camp Connect is offered through Berks County Intermediate Unit and was coordinated by Rodney Good, BCIU Operations Supervisor for Safety and Training. The camps were made possible at no cost to participants by a partnership with the Berks County Mental Health / Developmental Disabilities Program, Jan’s Circle of Friends, local hospice bereavement programs, social agencies, and therapy dogs.