New Hope for Kids Annual Summer Camps
Camp Ray of Hope: The fifth annual New Hope for Kids grief camp, “Camp Ray of Hope”, welcomed 46 Central Florida children to participate in a weekend of sharing, remembering and healing. This camp not only provided an opportunity for these grieving children to explore their losses and lives now that their loved one is no longer physically present, it allowed for fun, adventure and solace. This year’s adventure was held for the first time at Disney’s Fort Wildrerness Resort and Campground.
Camp weekend was kicked off with a day of adventure at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. The campers had a “wild” time seeing animal shows and on the Jungle Safari ride. They also enjoyed fun in the sun and cooled off on the many water rides at Animal Kingdom. Back at the campsite, the campers explored the outdoors at Fort Wilderness, enjoyed making arts & crafts and enjoyed a campfire and sing-a-long with “Chip and Dale” followed by a Disney movie on an outdoor screen. This year was especially adventurous because the campers really “roughed it” and slept in tents. The campers’ families also came out to enjoy the fun, swimming, games and delicious food from the grill during the “Family Picnic”.
Each day provided an opportunity for the children to do grief work. This year’s theme was Metamorphosis. Camp activities were focused on the life cycle of a butterfly. This concept was used to parallel the grief journey these children are courageously walking. The children truly opened their hearts and allowed themselves to feel their feelings of grief and share with others. This year’s camp was another shining example of the power of support found in a group of individuals with a common thread among them. Support can be facilitated in a routine environment such as attending group at the center, but camp shows how effective leaving a routine behind and being placed in another safe, nurturing environment is for a child to embrace their grief process. Nature is the perfect playground. Ft. Wilderness served as a fuel station for the campers to be filled with fun, friendship, adventure and strength to continue their journey to healing. Thank you to the volunteer camp counselors who kept the children safe and to all of the community members who made this camp a reality. A special thanks to our friends at “Walt Disney World” and new friends made at Fort Wilderness, (names of donors) for their commitment to bring new hope to the children that we serve.
Summer Kamp:There’s nothing quite like summer camp at Christmas Airstream Park. It’s far away from city traffic and noise. There’s a huge, blue swimming pool, groves of shade trees, and a large air conditioned recreation room. Every day Lisa Charlton volunteers to prepare breakfast and lunch. A variety of craft activities take place and before long it’s time to go swimming.
Team Knights of the Round Table from UCF raised more than $1500 to cover the expenses of camp. To make it extra special they provided beach towels, camp shirts and a tasty breakfast for every child. This was a huge hit with the kids! A second UCF team, Carpe Diem, raised over $1200 to provide food for Saturday’s family Bar-B-Q and got many craft items donated. Both teams were genuinely concerned about pleasing the kids and made this year’s camp a memorable one.
Saturday was the highlight of the camp, because parents and friends came to see crafts and to share in a Bar-B-Q lunch. A 5-piece instrumental ensemble added to the lively spirit of the crowd. This year 92 children, 50 adults and 40 volunteers participated in the camp over a 3-day period. It’s an understatement to say everyone had a wonderful time!
Our thanks to the committee of parents and Event Manager, Rhonda Giusti who plan the camp; the wonderful crew of volunteers who help with set up, crafts, and monitoring children; and a special thanks to Publix Markets for their support, Christmas Airstream Park for donating Holly Hall and the park residents who patiently wait their turn to swim. The only sad part is waiting another year for camp to come again!