Camp and Counseling Give Grieving Kids New Hope
When Antonio was a freshman in high school, his dad suffered a heart attack and died unexpectedly. Now the man of the house, Antonio focused on staying strong for his mom and his two younger siblings, ages 5 and 7. He went out of his way to play with the younger ones when they were feeling down, offered them encouragement, and tried to set a positive example. Needless to say, it was a big job for a 14-year-old.
“I knew that I had some stuff to work through,” Antonio recalls, “But I wanted them [my siblings] to have somebody to look up to, to see how I was dealing with it, and to stay strong.”
Soon after the loss, Antonio’s mom learned about Delaware Hospice’s Camp New Hope from a friend. “Wait, a free camp in the summer focused on grief?” she marveled. She signed up all three of her children.
Antonio and his siblings attended the four-day camp at Lums Pond State Park. Throughout the experience they were able to process their grief with their peers and to take a break from all the stuff they were going through. For Antonio, it was a chance to connect with other teens who were also focused on helping their younger siblings cope with their families’ losses.
Now, four years later, Antonio is a freshman in college majoring in engineering. There’s one key lesson he’s carried with him since his Camp New Hope experience:
“Most people have lost somebody who is close to them. Everyone’s in it together to support each other. There’s always someone you can talk to,” Antonio explains. “Camp showed me that I wasn’t alone in the grieving process.”
Camp New Hope is one of several services offered by Delaware Hospice’s nationally recognized New Hope program for grieving children—the only free program of its kind in the region.
New Hope celebrates 30 years!
Delaware Hospice launched New Hope in 1990 after one of our counselors identified a need in the community for a child-oriented bereavement program. Over the last 30 years, New Hope has helped more than 11,000 young people ages 6-17 sort through the maze of emotions they experience before and after a loved one dies.
New Hope provides individual grief counseling to children and their families, conducts over 30 school-based groups, and hosts roughly 80 campers each year—all for free, regardless of whether the child’s loved one received services from Delaware Hospice.
From young people who lost friends or family members to suicide, a drug overdose, or a massive heart attack to kids preparing to say goodbye to an elderly relative in hospice care, children and teens from across the community get the specialized support they need through Delaware Hospice’s New Hope program.
(Pro tip for getting teens to give Camp New Hope a shot: Tell them they only have to go for the first day. Chances are, they’ll show up for days two, three, and four!)