CARLSBAD — Hospice of the North Coast (HNC) invites children and families grieving the loss of a loved one to attend its annual Healing Outdoor Play Experience, known as Camp H.O.P.E., from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Aug. 3, at Green Oak Ranch in Vista.
The retreat provides therapeutic activities in a fun and nurturing environment specifically aimed at helping grieving children 7 years of age and older find their way to a new normal. As a family event, it also guides adults in how to take care of themselves while caring for their children during this challenging time.
Activities include therapy dogs, a petting corral, hayrides, yoga, expressive arts, massage and a drumming circle. The day culminates with a ceremonial tree planting that serves as a memorial to loved ones and a symbol of the continuation of life’s journey.
The $50-per-family registration fee covers all activities and food as well as a commemorative T-shirt. The camp is offered free to military families. Scholarships are available to qualifying families. Pre-registration is required. Visit hospicenorthcoast.org or call (760) 431-4100 to register.
Director of Bereavement Ti Johnson said children can feel overwhelmed and isolated by the death of a family member. “We structure Camp H.O.P.E. to address children’s special needs and enable them to interact with humans and animals in a warm and friendly way. Just having a dog to hug can do wonders for the healing process,” she said.
Camper-turned-volunteer Brianna Ortiz said, “I was just 9 when I lost my dad. Camp H.O.P.E. was wonderful for me. I connected instantly with other kids in the same situation. We understood what each of us was going through. That experience enabled me as a volunteer to connect with campers and help them connect with each other.”