GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) - Over the past decade, a summer camp held on the UW-Green Bay campus has helped grieving children heal from the loss of a loved one. For many, it's the recent death of a parent or sibling.
Kids in a healing circle at Camp Lloyd (undated file image)
It's also inspired a number of college student volunteers to become counselors.
Camp Lloyd is set for the week of June 19 this year, and there are still 20 spots open.
"There's a need out there, there's a huge need, and I want to serve as many kids as I possibly can," Illene Cupit said.
When UWGB Professor of Human Development Illene Cupit founded Camp Lloyd in 2006, it marked the first time a grief camp for kids was ever held on a college campus.
"Children who are grieving typically suffer from low self-esteem, and they feel like they're the only kid on the planet that has had this awful thing happen to them."
Designed for children ages 7-14, the week-long day camp is filled with fun activities each day, combined with grief counseling and support.
"But more importantly they get to see that they're not alone, and they get to meet other kids that are just like them -- and that's where the real magic happens."
"I can see them come in, and they're all a little shy and scared to be who they are," Kirsten Wideman, a camp volunteer, said, "and once they have this whole week of experience with all these other kids who are going through similar experiences, they blossom and they become these wonderful, energetic children again."
Wideman is one of several college students Professor Cupit trains to help run the camp. Many previous volunteers have used the camp as a springboard to their careers.
"Some of the students who have been the buddies have gone on, been so inspired by camp that they've gone on and gotten their Masters in counseling, and I have a few of them that come back and do the grief circles, the healing circles with the kids," Cupit said.
"I gain experience working with the kids, and I gain the experience of having patience and understanding where they're coming from and have that empathy and sympathy with them," student volunteer Abby Glodowski said.
"I thought I was going to come in here and help these kids, and they actually changed my life and made me find a passion in working with kids who need my help,"
The week-long Camp Lloyd costs just $40.
For information about registration, click here.