Saskatchewan

Sask. camp for kids dealing with grief and trauma finds the volunteers it needed

A camp in Saskatchewan for kids coping with grief is going full speed ahead after putting out a call for volunteers.

Camp had risked turning campers away due to lack of male volunteers

The camp's goal is to help kids deal with grief of losing a loved one while encouraging them to have fun. (Submitted by Trish Dupuis)

A camp in Saskatchewan for kids coping with grief is going full-speed ahead after almost turning campers away due to a lack of male volunteers.

The camp is run twice a year by Caring Hearts, a Regina-based not-for-profit agency, for children aged six to 16 dealing with trauma, grief and other mental health struggles.

An upcoming camp from May 3 to 5 at Lumdsen currently has 63 kids signed up — about half whom are boys — according to Trish Dupuis, executive director of Caring Hearts.

As of last week the camp only had two male volunteers and risked turning away boys . It put out a call to the community.

"We received a flood of phone calls, emails and Facebook messages from people wanting to help and offer to volunteer for camp weekends," said Dupuis.

She said they went from having 19 volunteers to 44, half of whom are men, which means none of the kids will be turned away.

Activities during the Caring Hearts camp include, campfires, rock climbing and horseback riding. Campers also participate in therapeutic and guided activities that help them deal with emotional aspects of trauma or grief. (Submitted by Trish Dupuis)

"That is the best feeling in the world," said Dupuis.

"We didn't want to make those decisions and face having to notify camp families that unfortunately due to a lack of volunteers we weren't going to be able to accept their their campers application."

She said they had an applicant from as far as Meadow Lake, Sask. — about 525 kilometres away from the camp.

"I'm just truly humbled to to see the remarkable response from communities all over the province," said Dupuis, noting the camp has closed applications for volunteers and campers because they have reached maximum capacity.

The next camp is scheduled for Sept. 27 to 29.

Fundraising efforts

Dupuis said Caring Hearts is now focused on organizing the upcoming camp and fundraising.

The camps offer therapeutic and guided activities that help kids deal with emotional aspects of grief. An elder is also brought in to work with kids.

Attendees partake in fun activities like campfires, canoeing, rock-climbing and horseback riding.

The camps are free to attend, said Dupuis, but it costs Caring Hearts $72,000 per year to host them.

Dupuis said the organization is currently looking for corporate partners and individual donations.

"We don't receive any core government funding, so it is really through our events, and individual and corporate donations where we are able to continue providing," she said.

About the Author

Cory Coleman is a reporter, web writer and associate producer for CBC Saskatchewan. Have a story idea? Email cory.coleman@cbc.ca

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