Camp Flutterbye offers healing, socialization for youth

ST. MARYS – An upcoming day camp for children and teens who have experienced a loss through death is being offered to area youth by Community Nurses, Inc.The free, two-day "Camp Flutterbye" will be held Thursday, June 14 and Friday, June 15 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. each day at The Pines, located on 1008 Windfall Rd. in St. Marys. According to Joanne Straub, M.S.W., the social worker/bereavement coordinator for Community Nurses, Inc., the camp offers children and teens a therapeutic, fun setting for sharing with others and addressing their feelings on loss, and is also a great place to meet and make new friends. "Part of this is an opportunity for children to meet children who are suffering a death loss. It's teaching kids that it's OK to feel whatever you're feeling and it's important to give them the support the child needs," Straub said. "We've found that the best help for anybody dealing with grief is spending time with other people who are also dealing with grief. Our hope is that the kids become friends and continue their relationships after they leave camp."Straub said the camp has been held in past years with great success. This year, a two-day camp is offered through a grant awarded to Community Nurses by Women Who Care, a charitable organization of area women whose grant funding is administered by the Elk County Community Foundation. Community Nurses is working in collaboration with Dickinson Mental Health Center Children's Prevention Services, Cameron and Elk MH/MR, and Beacon Light to staff the event. "We believe the camp will be beneficial to all involved. The campers will have an opportunity to learn more about their grief, learn to move beyond their losses, meet others in similar circumstances, and participate in many group activities," Straub said. Because children are still developing, Straub said, they may view their grief and any sense of loss they feel differently at different stages of their lives. Ways of dealing with grief vary widely among children, just as with adults, but sometimes children may not have developed the self-awareness or communications skills to express that grief in a healthy way. Additionally, they may be uncomfortable expressing their feelings to or around adults. Straub said dealing with these feelings positively while they are children can be key to avoiding depression and other issues stemming from a death loss in later life. "As the child develops, their perception of their loss changes, and they re-grieve. For a very high percentage of people who are assessed in outpatient counseling centers as adults, the underlying problem is directly related to a grief loss as a child, whether that be a death, abuse, or other life-changing event," Straub said. "This camp experience is intended to help children identify and express their feelings in healthy ways."Pick up a copy of the Friday, June 1, 2012 edition of The Ridgway Record for more.