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updated: 4/14/2014 9:28 AM

Camp helps grieving children smile again

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By Chris LaFortune
Adventist Midwest Health

While the death of a close friend or family member can be painful and confusing, it is especially difficult for children. Adventist St. Thomas Hospice offers support throughout the year for grieving children through Tommy's Kids Support Group.

Tommy's Kids Summer Camp, designed for ages 5 to 12, allows the hospice to serve an even larger population of kids.

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The camp will take place daily from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. June 16-20 at Arabian Knights Farms, 6526 Clarendon Hills Road, Willowbrook. The cost is $50 per child, with some scholarships available.

Enrollment is limited to 30 children to keep the ratio of campers to counselors at one-to-one. Adventist St. Thomas Hospice staff and specially trained adult volunteers staff the camp. For registration information, call Heather Kochen at (630) 856-6985.

"Grieving children need to know it's OK to still laugh and have fun," said Kochen, bereavement coordinator for Adventist St. Thomas Hospice. "While Tommy's Kids Camp does that, it also provides campers with the tools and resources they need to work through their loss."

Activities include nature hikes, arts and crafts, miniature golf, obstacle courses and water balloon battles. Campers will learn to express themselves through bereavement activities such as journaling exercises, discussions on different types of feelings, puppet shows and a therapy dog visit. Children should bring a sack lunch with drink each day and wear comfortable shoes.

The Hinsdale Hospital Foundation seeks sponsorships and underwriters on behalf of the hospice. For information on supporting Tommy's Kids Camp, call (630) 856-2000.

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