Camp Good Grief – Another Year

Camp Good GriefWith just one more day left in summer for the girls, school here starts Wednesday, they spent last week on the east end of Long Island at their fourth year of Camp Good Grief.  If you want me to save you the click (although I would suggest taking the journey), Camp Good Grief is a week-long program for kids who have lost a close relative (think parent, sibling or grandparent).  This year at Camp Good Grief 15.0 was a counselor and 12.5 was a fourth year camper (normally it’s only three years).

Over the years I’ve used Camp Good Grief as a check in point to the emotional status of the girls.  They spend time in art therapy and group therapy – and on the last day of camp I can get feedback from both.  This year I’ll admit my level of concern was a little lower than normal, and with good reason according to the therapists – 12.5 is doing more than OK.

The broader experience this year though was both girls (although 15.0 more) got the feeling of giving back to the micro-community they belong to – children who have lost a loved one.  It happens.  It happened to me.  It’s part of life.  But there is a sense of peace that comes with knowing you’re not alone (at least that is what my girls have told me).

15.0 had such a great experience, she’s ready to sign up for another year as a counselor.  12.5 will be eligible to be a counselor next year – and it looks like she’ll apply as well.

Three out of the four years my girls have gone to Camp Good Grief, it’s been at the Peconic Dunes Camp Grounds closer to the end of the North Fork of Long Island than anything else.  It’s about an hour from our door to drop off – so it’s a long week of driving and logistics for me as the girls continue with soccer (15.0) and softball (12.5), and getting ready for school and catching up with friends.

For me though, it really has been time well spent.  Sure, the year it was only 20 minutes from our house (at a different camp grounds) it was even easier.  But to borrow (and butcher) Teddy Roosevelt, no one is saying it’s going to be easy, but it will be worth it.

Camp Good Grief – another year in the books and it looks like another year ahead.  And it’s OK.  I’ll put the time in.  I’ve tried to teach the girls about giving back to their community and family – so how could I complain when they are giving back to their micro-community?

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The Staycation-Adjusting Along The Way

staycationIn a first for us – I am taking a week off from work, and we’re not going anywhere.  Call it a staycation of sorts – but largely we’re not home.  For the staycation to work we’ll be adjusting along the way right until school starts a week from Tuesday.

Part of the issue is school starting a week before Labor Day – so the summer that was already feeling very short just got even shorter.

This staycation starts each day at Camp Good Grief where 15.0 is a counselor for the 11-year-old group and 12.5 is in her final (OK extra) year as a camper.  Normally when we do this, I work the week from a Starbucks near where the camp is being held.  But this year I decided to take the week off – because after camp ends at three in the afternoon – more running around ensues.

15.0 has soccer practice each evening from five to seven-30 and 12.5 has softball practice three times this week from five-30 to seven-30.  In between we’ll try to eat something, get hydrated and I may even get to the gym a few times this week.

In year’s past I was able to work out my schedule to be able to do calls and meetings while the girls were at camp, and then catch up after camp.  It won’t work this year.  And because there is not another week off before school starts, we’ll still have to fit in some last-minute back to school stuff.

A trip to the mall or at least a store to get sneakers will be an evening jaunt this year.  The hour or so to set up the locker and walk the schedule looks like it will be done in stealth mode on the day before school – when the teachers are there but there aren’t supposed to be students around.

With all of that going on – and a lot of vacation time available, I figured take one thing out of the picture – so here I am on “vacation” trying to cram more into a day than normal.  For the staycation, adjusting along the way will be the key to success.

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Something Different: Camp Good Grief

Today is the third of five days I have the girls going to a program called Camp Good Grief.  For the uninitiated (and I was too) Camp Good Grief is a week-long day camp for kids who have suffered the loss of a parent.  One

of the counselors in 12.0 school recommended it to me in the middle of her sixth grade year after an incident at the school.

I did some research and it seemed like a good thing to try.  Certainly the price (free) was right and the timing worked.  The girls c

ame home from eight weeks at sleep-away camp a week ago.  After some down days of just hanging they are doing Camp Good Grief for five days (its 9-3 so they have time for friends to

o) and then a week before school begins.

In the weeks ahead of this week, East End Hospice (which runs the camp) has sent stuff about the camp to the house, and honestly maybe I need the adult version of Camp Good Grief, because I strugg

le to think about how the girls will handle the outline of the day.

The high level goal is to give voice to feelings and emotions that are perhaps bottled up.  There is safety in that all the kids at the camp are in the same place as my girls, so there hopefully is not an awkward feeling abou

t their situation.  The days are broken down into emotions, feelings, memories (good and bad) and finally putting words to the feelings.

I think largely because of the age difference and emotional difference the girls so far have reacted differently.  12.0 tends to be more like me and stoic.  9.5 is far more emotive and has been willing to share.

The other take away I get from this experience is a snapshot of their emotional state.  On the last day, I spend time with the counselors at the camp to find out how the girls are doing. I think they are doing well, but you never know.  Based on that feedback, we’ll figure out if we should resume private therapy once the school year starts.

One of the biggest struggles I have is expressing my own emotions, much less being more than there when the girls express theirs.  I encourage it, but at my own peril, because it’s not an area I excel at.  But that is probably not as important as the expression itself.

So, each morning this week we have been out of the house around eight, and almost to the end of the North Fork of Long Island.  I’ve worked from Starbucks or the pier in Greenport (great open wi-fi if you are in the area), all so the girls can have this opportunity and I can get that snap shot.

Who know, they may even want to go back next year.  If they do, they are in.

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