YMCA Camp Mason
YMCA Camp Mason grant money will fund the design, production, and dissemination of replicable training materials across a large YMCA population: “training the trainer” program. The volunteers are trained to work with families going through the grief cycle.
Founded in 1900, YMCA Camp Mason has served more than 500,000 children and families since inception. Their 460-acre site offers incredible opportunities for outdoor activities. A place where kids can be kids! They are a community that values friendship and encourages each member to do their best. A camp that’s big enough to offer a wide range of programs, yet small enough to ensure that every camper receives individual attention and is valued as a person.
The project helps children and youth who have lost a parent/guardian or sibling. The death of a parent, sibling or legal guardian is undeniably one of the most traumatic events a child can experience; however, most parents, schools and social programs lack the tools needed to help children address their grief adequately. Instead of finding a supportive, understanding community in the wake of a parent or sibling death, most children find that friends can’t relate to their loss and family members are consumed with handling their own grief. This gap in both services and understanding often leads to severe emotional isolation that can negatively affect their ability to reach their full potential at home, in school and in their communities. Our camps help combat these negative consequences.
The bereavement camps YMCA Camp Mason operates in conjunction with Comfort Zone are volunteer intensive. The unique aspect of the camps is that we search for volunteers who have experienced the same tragedy as the participants (having lost a parent or a sibling as a youth) AND we hope to have a 1 to 1 counselor to camper ratio. This ratio sets us apart from other similar camps, but is a difficult number to reach.
Children’s’ lives were changed for the better. Children often feel like they are totally alone and that no one could possibly understand them after a parent or sibling death. YMCA Camp Mason creates impactful opportunities for children to meet others who are healing from the same specific type of loss (i.e. parent to suicide, sibling to illness, etc.). This matching process with volunteers truly helps children realize that they are not alone – a very important revelation in a child’s grief journey.
The program has a host of benefits for the participants (and volunteers). These include:
- Increased self-esteem and enhanced identity development.
- Better development of life skills such as leadership and decision-making.
- Fewer psychosocial problems, such as loneliness, shyness and hopelessness.
- Decreased involvement in risky behaviors, including reduced risk of suicide.
- Increased personal resiliency.
- Building robust adult, peer and community supports.
- Improved coping skills for the difficult days.
- Strengthened hope for the future.