So pleased that PROJO did a front page article about all the good work happening at Camp Braveheart, a bereavement camp for children and families, that Christopher is proud to be involved with...
• Camp Braveheart in Scituate helps youngsters cope with loss of loved ones
Days jammed with swimming, archery, crafts and kayaking classes as well as quiet moments when a child can rest his head on a grief counselor's shoulder
Joshua David, 5, right, helps volunteer Christopher Kavi Carbone lead a group of children in a drum circle on Friday during the two-day Camp Braveheart in Scituate. Trevone Chase, left, and Luis Avila follow their lead. The Providence Journal/Sandor Bodo
By Linda Borg
Journal Staff Writer Posted Aug. 21, 2015 @ 11:00 pm
SCITUATE — For a few hours this week, grief took a vacation.
Deep in the woods of North Scituate, beside a lake studded with lily pads, about 100 children tried to forget about their loss during two action-packed days at Camp Braveheart.
Run by Home & Hospice Care of Rhode Island, the camp is about helping children cope with the death of a loved one in a place both nurturing and safe.
For nine years, Camp Braveheart has been helping children. There are children who have returned to the program summer after summer. Some will undoubtedly turn in their yellow T-shirts for blue ones when they become volunteers. Many will begin the school year knowing that they are not alone in their grief, that other kids are reeling from the same wounds.
Kaitlyn Gilmore, 16, has been coming to Camp Braveheart for nine years, after losing her father and grandmother when she was 7. Gilmore, who lives in Burrillville, belongs to a special community that few of her peers can understand.
"It's hard for people to understand," she said Friday. "I feel like I'm the only one who has lost anyone. When I go the father-daughter dances with my mom, it's different. At this camp, I'm not alone. I think if I never had this group, I would never have come as far as I have."
Braveheart, which is free, operates like a typical summer camp. The days are jammed with swimming, archery, crafts and kayaking classes. But there are quiet moments when a child can rest his head on a grief counselor's shoulder or cry a little with one of the trained volunteers. Comfort, not competition, is the name of game here.
Emily Smith, 14, of Wakefield, lost her 11-year-old sister to cancer, then her father a year later. At first, Emily worried that her fellow campers wouldn't know what her pain felt like. But she soon realized that they all shared pieces of the same story.
The program can be healing for the volunteers as well as the campers.
Cherine Whitney, of Richmond, a librarian and volunteer, lost her elderly father in 2007, a month before Camp Braveheart began. Watching shy children "blossom" has been a joy and a revelation, she said. With her pirate's hat, mismatched socks and candy-colored sneakers, Whitney stands out from the sea of volunteers.
"When they get here," Whitney said of the children, "the only thing they have in common is that someone died who they loved. In two days, there is such bonding. It's amazing to see them come alive."
Braveheart wrapped up with a bonfire, several songs and the release of the butterflies, symbols of transformation and rebirth.
Before the butterflies scattered, Deanna Upchurch, children's grief counselor for the hospice, shared a story. Several campers had brought her lotus petals from the pond on Friday. Unlike other flowers, the lotus grows up from the mud.
"In order to grow," Upchurch said, "we all face obstacles and grief. We all strive to gain more wisdom and compassion. We all open one petal at a time, one by one."
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