Hospice of Davidson County Launches New Children’s Grief Camp

North Carolina-based Hospice of Davidson County (HODC) will soon unveil a summer grief camp for bereaved children and teens.

Dubbed Camp Comfort, the new grief program launches this Thursday for children in 1st through 5th grade. Additional camp sessions will be held July 25 and July 31 for adolescents and teens in middle school and high school, respectively.

Addressing the unmet bereavement needs of children and their families was a main priority for rolling out the grief camp, according to Cole Warner, director of support services at HODC. The grief camp has been several years in the making, but the pandemic slowed its developmental progress, Warner said. Though the hospice includes children activities and therapies within its scope of bereavement services, it did not yet have a formalized youth program.


“We intentionally want to meet the needs of our youngest community members,” Warner told Hospice News. “We’ve created a really great relationship with quite a few different agencies that work with youths, including the school systems. We started serving more and more children through our grief counseling program, and we wanted to start this [camp] as an extension of that. It’s a setting with a sole purpose of learning about grief and the support resources available to them.”

Established in 1985, the nonprofit provides hospice care in Davidson County, North Carolina, and across roughly 10 surrounding counties in the region. HODC has an average daily census of more than 150 patients and also offers grief and veterans programs.

The grief camp is available to youth populations across HODC’s service region, regardless of their ability to afford the program. The hospice offers scholarships and other funding support for families who are unable to cover the registration fee.


“Children are often overlooked when it comes to processing loss and grief,” Warner said. “Showing them that grief is natural and a universal experience helps remove the stigma. Learning about the grief process and providing healthy coping mechanisms to children only improves their abilities to navigate hardships in the future.”

The program will provide developmentally-appropriate activities such as games, crafts and conversations centered on addressing the emotional aspects of grief. Some of the participating organizations have also offered art and pet therapy services, according to Warner.

A main goal is for children, adolescents and teens to learn about navigating complex emotions during a loss, such as anxiety, anger, confusion and depression, he stated. The grief camp provides an environment for kids to interact with peers experiencing a recent death.

Key to the grief camp’s structure was having insight from behavioral health professionals, counselors and youth-based community organizations, according to Warner. HODC also collaborated with American Children’s Home, YMCA and Kiwanis, among other nonprofit groups.

The hospice’s bereavement care staffing model also played a significant role, which includes nurses, spiritual counselors, social workers and volunteers, he added.

Coordination with local schools was led by Emily Sullivan, grief counselor at HODC, who works with educators to provide counseling to students. The collaborative partnership with educators aided in designing the grief camp’s therapeutic activities and creating an environment to learn somatic coping techniques, Warner stated.

The hospice provider has been on a growth path in recent years, expanding its services with the addition of two facilities in Randolph and Guilford counties, according to its annual report. HODC served 895 hospice patients in 2022, an 8.7% year-over-year increase, according to the report.

HODC plans to grow and sustain its youth-focused grief services, according to Warner. The efforts will take staffing and cost consideration alongside ongoing assessment around reach and impact, he said.

“Once we get through the first three offerings for this summer, we plan to assess it with our partners in the area that serve youths, and also look for future funding opportunities and ways to grow in the quality and provisions we’re able to offer,” Warner said. “It’s about what we can do with this program specifically to better serve kids.”

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