St. Claire Regional (SCR) Hospice and Palliative Care and Morehead State University’s (MSU) Nursing Department recently co-hosted the 10th annual Camp SMILE (Sharing Memories in a Loving Environment) bereavement camp, April 29-May 1, at Camp Lyons in Bath County.
The camp celebrated a decade of caring with some big changes, like a new location, fun theme, a surprise guest and record-breaking attendance, with nearly 60 campers participating! To mark this super event, this year’s theme was superheroes with the camp motto, “The Power to Defeat Grief Lies Within.” In addition to traditional camping activities such as archery and canoeing, campers also had the opportunity to participate in superhero challenges, games and crafts, and even received a visit from Batman himself, who arrived in style in his “Hope-Mobile.”
Camp SMILE focuses on defining grief, coping skills and addressing the emotions one may feel after experiencing a death. Throughout the weekend, campers participated in many healing and coping activities, such as a balloon release with a letter to their loved one; a luminary ceremony; superhero mason jars; special memory pillow cases; creating worry dolls; and participating in small groups. Another new addition to this year’s camp was Lisa the therapy dog, who was a huge hit with the campers.
Camp SMILE began in 2007 with 13 campers, three staff members and two volunteers. In 2008, SCR Hospice and Palliative Care collaborated with MSU Nursing to provide the camp with additional resources and volunteers. Ten years later, the camp has served 352 children!
Camp SMILE is a free community service that relies on in-kind contributions. For more information about Camp SMILE or SCR Hospice and Palliative Care, call 606.783.6812.