For youngsters like Jessica Adamczyk, 11, Camp Evergreen, a
Children’s Bereavement Program, provides a safe haven to explore
and discuss the emotions experienced after a loved one dies. “I
came here to express my feelings and talk with the other kids and the
counselors. My dad died in a car accident when I was just two years
old and my friend, who was 8, just died in a four-wheeler accident,” says Adamczyk.
In the rural setting of Camp Kresge, White Haven, Diakon Children’s
Bereavement Program hosts
Camp Evergreen each summer. Geared towards
helping youngsters cope with loss through therapeutic activities along
with peer, counselor, and volunteer interaction, the camp helps children
regain normalcy in life.
This year’s free camp is scheduled for June 22 through
June 24 and is open to all youth eight to 14 who are coping with the
of a loved one.
“When participants meet other kids who have experienced loss, they know
they are not alone,” says Christina Fedorko, director, Diakon
Children’s Bereavement Program and camp organizer. “They
quickly bond and support each other throughout the weekend.”
Camp Evergreen offers a myriad of activities such as fishing, swimming,
boating, sand art, creating memory boxes, journaling feelings, campfire
time, planting flowers and a symbolic evergreen tree. Through informal
and formal activities, children discuss their experiences with death
with one another and the trained volunteers and counselors.
Youth who have attended the camp find it comforting and helpful. “Sometimes
I felt like I was going crazy. At camp, I realized other kids felt
the same way too. It’s not crazy, it’s grief,” remarked
a 14-year old camp attendee.
Another past participant, age 12, says, “I loved being outdoors,
doing the crafts, being with other kids, and talking with my buddy.
Everything helped me to talk about my uncle’s accident. Now I
feel I will have an easier time talking with my mother about it.”
To end Camp Evergreen, campers and counselors plant an evergreen tree
to symbolize the youths’ continuing love for the person they
lost. Campers write letters to their loved ones and have the option
to plant the letters within the roots of the evergreen tree.
“Whether they plant their letter or not, the evergreen tree is a memorial
to their loved one. The evergreen tree does not fade; it stays green
and reminds us that love lasts in our hearts forever. Camp Evergreen
helps young people to remember that,” says Fedorko.
Campers stay in cabins furnished with bunk beds
and bathroom facilities. Meals and snacks are provided.
The camp is free of charge. However, registration for Camp
Evergreen is required. For additional information or to serve as a
Diakon offers other services in addition to Camp Evergreen.
Founded in 1979, Diakon Hospice Saint John is one of the oldest hospices
in Pennsylvania and is a service of Diakon Lutheran Social Ministries.
The Diakon Hospice Saint John team of nurses, aides, social workers,
chaplains, volunteers and physicians work together to meet the clinical,
emotional, psycho-social and spiritual needs of those that they serve.
They also serve as an educational resource in end-of-life issues, grief
and bereavement to the communities that they serve.
Providing senior living accommodations, health care, and a range of
family and children’s programs in Pennsylvania, Maryland, and
Delaware, Diakon Lutheran Social Ministries serves people without regard
to religious affiliation. Dating to 1868, the nonprofit organization
annually touches the lives of 70,000 persons through programs ranging
from adoption and foster care and services for at-risk youth to family
counseling and continuum-of-care retirement communities.
To learn more about Diakon, visit