Encouragement, teamwork and support. These are all simple, but important lessons for the children at the Optimal Hospice Foundation Kids Camp. They have all lost a loved one in the past year, and are trying to work through their grief and deal with the many changes in their lives.
"A lot of the camp leaders are really good, and it's nice to know that you have other people around you knowing what you are going through," said Mikaela Jaramillo a camp participant.
Camp Counselor Connie Pulmano says, it is a perfect opportunity for the kids to get away from the stress and open up to their peers. Pulmano says learning the feelings they are experiencing are normal is essential in helping them cope.
"The most important thing is about grief is finding that balance between living and grieving and it's really hard for adults to do, so you can imagine how hard it is for kids to do," Pulmano said.
Overcoming fears helps these kids find a new sense of courage they can apply to other issues, like the fear of an uncertain future without their loved one.
"It gives them that feeling of hey I can do this, if I am afraid of something it's ok I can push through this because there is going to be someone there to support me," Pulmano said.
For 13-year-old Mikaela Optimal Hospice Foundation Kids Camp has also given her a few moments of feeling like a kid again.
"Its just got my mind off things, and its just helped me," Mikaela said.
The camp is cost free and relies on fund raisers and donations to operate. It lasts three days and takes place once a year during the month of July.