Camp Heal-A-Heart is looking at new ways to help local children who are grieving or going through trauma. One of the things they’ve added this year is a twice a month meeting where the children can come back and reconnect with their friends. Clinical Director Carla Eckstrom says this event is important because some kids may not have friends outside of camp.
“Any of the kids that have gone to camp come back and we do some fun things, we do some serious things, as well as they get to reconnect. For a lot of our kids, they don’t have friends outside of camp so they get to say wow I get to see my friend monthly.”
There are two camps to chose from. A four-day camp is held in Clairmont open to children ages 5-9 and two one-week overnight camps are held outside of Grande Prairie for ages 9-15. Eckstrom says the camp is designed to teach things like coping skills to children who may be dealing with a loss or going through trauma.
“When kids come to camp they’re learning skills. They’re walking away with coping [skills], learning a variety of things and learning that the grief or whatever’s happening wasn’t their fault.”
Over the last few years, all of the camps have been full. This year they had 22 in their day camp and 50 in their overnight camp. To meet demand, the group has also added a volunteer component which would allow them to work with more children. Eckstrom says having those volunteers has made a difference in campers lives.
“If we have more volunteers, they can spend one on one time with kids, they can do a lot more activity bases with the kids. Then the kids know that people care, that they’re coming and that they’re there just for them.”
Even with the addition of the volunteer component, there was still a waiting list for this year’s camp. Eckstrom says they will be looking at ways to expand in the future to make sure that doesn’t happen again.