Creating artwork, playing games, basketball with the UW-Green Bay men’s team, swimming, crafts, music, comedy, seeing animals, fun at Bay Beach, healing circles… There are many activities that UW-Green Bay’s Camp Lloyd offers to children grieving over the loss of a loved one. This year, though, the weeklong camp had much more time for the children as it expanded from afternoons-only to a full-day experience.
That meant plenty of time for the approximately two-dozen campers to bond with their UW-Green Bay student counselors, or “special buddies” as they are more commonly known.
“It’s really exciting to be one of the counselors and feel that relationship that evolves,” said camp counselor Kristin Thompson. “It’s deep friendship (and) a lot of trust.”
The campers and the counselors do just about everything together at the camp, which has served grieving Northeast Wisconsin children for four years now.
“A lot of it is being their buddy, being there for them to look up to, being the person they can come to if they’re having a difficult time, if they need something from someone to walk them somewhere or show them where something is, or put a band aid on, or be someone there to talk to,” said fellow counselor Tasha Weinfurtner. “It’s easier for them to connect with a younger person than it is to an adult.”
Camp Lloyd founder Illene Noppe
Camp Director – Professor of Human Development
Camp Lloyd is a camp for grieving children, children who’ve lost a loved one. It’s for children from 7 to 14 years of age. It’s a one week day camp held here at the UW-Green Bay Campus. We hold it in the Ecumenical Center. These children come for one week. They work one-on-one with college students, mostly from the human development and psychology department but we’ve had social work majors, we have an art major working with Camp Lloyd this year.
Our students do this for internship credit so they learn about death and grief and loss in childhood and then they work one-on-one with the kids the entire week and they become their special buddy.
They form a very intense, wonderful relationship very quickly. The kids really look up to the college students, too. They’re really good role models for them.
A lot of it is being their buddy, being there for them to look up to, being the person they can come to if they’re having a difficult time, if they need something from someone to walk them somewhere or show them where something is, or put a band aid on, or be someone there to talk to. It’s easier for them to connect with a younger person than it is to an adult.
It’s really exciting to be one of the counselors and feel that relationship that evolves. It’s deep friendship, a lot of trust, and it really, even with one day, yesterday you could see the bonds growing between the buddies and their campers.
I started the camp because I had married into a family that had suffered a significant tragic loss. My husband, Lloyd—who the camp is named after—his father was killed tragically in a car accident right before his 9th birthday. I’ve seen the impact on my husband, on his sister (my sister-in-law) and my mother-in- law.
Lloyd comes every day. He actually comes and introduces the healing circles and talks about his loss experience. He comes every day and connects with the kids and participates in several of the activities.
Professor of Human Development
I come every day for at least an hour or two. I chat with the kids informally. I serve as the official camp mascot. I just help with the counselors where they need to.
The camp was started by my wife, Ilene. She thought that it would be a good idea for grieving children to be able to have the opportunity to be able to meet with other kids in the same situation.
When I was 9 years old, my father died in a car accident. I really didn’t have anyone to talk to at that time. She thought that this would be a good memorial to him and it would be a service to any children in the community.
Grief is so individual. Every child that we have coming to camp has his or her own story.
The ultimate goal for the children is for them to see that they are not alone; that there are other kids just like them. When they come to camp here, we really emphasize that this is a safe place for them to be. This is a place where they can be themselves, where they can have a good time and that it’s OK for them to have a good time even though they are grieving over their loss, and that there other kids there that are going through the same thing.
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