Camp Braveheart helps children deal with loss | News
LULA, GA - At first glance, it looks like any other summer camp, kids playing in an ice cold creek, shooting squirt guns, catching baby frogs.
But this isn't just your average summer camp.
The 28 kids at Camp Braveheart share a special burden.
"I lost my mother," said 9-year-old Molly Moore.
Each of the campers has lost a parent, some both, some a brother or sister.
It's hard to understand, to absorb, especially at such a young age.
But at this camp they talk about their special bond and realize they are not alone.
"It's cool to know that other people have lost parents, too, and you can talk to other people around you," said 10-year-old Jessica Light.
"You really help people and you care about people from when their families die," said 6-year-old Emma Gilstrap.
"I would recommend it to anyone who has lost someone close to them," added 9-year-old Molly Moore.
Now in its sixteenth year, Camp Braveheart is run by Hospice at the Northeast Georgia Medical Center in Gainesville.
The last four years businessman Jim Walters has let campers use several acres of his sprawling farm near Lula.
For four days this week these children have shared emotions in group sessions, shared outdoor fun and collected memories of their lost loved ones in special boxes and journals.
Many of the surviving relatives who gathered for a closing ceremony on Thursday afternoon were pleasantly surprised how the children have opened up about their grief.
"To have all these children together to share away from adults even, I think it's probably helped my grandson, " said Andrea Gilbert.
As is often the case, adult volunteers who run the camp said they are the ones who've learned something.
"The way they express themselves is really, they're very creative and the way that some of them do, you think they're really older than they are," said 18-year-old counselor Kyle Moss.
Camp Braveheart runs mostly on private donations which may be made through their website.