Big Pine Retreat, in Hamlet, opened up its facilities on Saturday, for Richmond County/Anson Community Hospice to host a grief camp for children who have experienced the loss of a loved one.
Children between the ages of 5-12 who have lost a family member to things like divorce, prison, death or war were invited to attend the day of fun and fellowship at Big Pine.
“We had a great turnout, with about 54 children in attendance,” said Bereavement and Faith Outreach Coordinator Marti Newbold. “We started the day off by passing a battery-operated candle around the group. Everyone took a turn to say who they were missing.”
After the initial ceremony, the day centered around fun activities and making new friends.
“We didn’t want to make this a day to dwell on losses,” said Newbold. “We wanted to give the kids an opportunity to share their feelings, if they want to, and to be around other people their age who are going through similar situations.”
Big Pine sponsored the camp, and had about 10 staff members volunteer their Saturday to organize and supervise activities.
Activities included fishing, canoeing, ropes courses, arts and crafts, zip lines across the lake and tests of courage climbing a “rock” wall.
“A lot of these kids have suffered so much loss, it’s hard for them to get a break just to be kids,” said Newbold. “We are so grateful to Big Pine for letting them come here, and volunteering their time, because this is the only opportunity most of them have ever had to do things like this.”
“Big Pine and its staff supports Hospice in its efforts to help these children,” said Roger Boone, Lead Instructor at Big Pine. “We hope that when the kids leave here, they will have made some positive memories - a happy time to reflect on.”
“This year’s camp is special, because the facilities and staff at Big Pine offer the kids the chance to learn team-building skills and take part in confidence-building activities, which is something a lot of these children really need,” said long-time Hospice volunteer Neal Watkins.
Hospice also received support from teen volunteers: Jennifer Lovin; Kyle Peacock; Karrissa Horton; Courtney Pope; Paige Bellamy; Patience Wall; Sierra Barnes; Gabrielle Stephens; Melissa Rainwater; Heather Long; Blaire Dawkins; Adam Zeidan; Nic Wilkes; and Kadeisha Nelson.
“It’s great that we have such involved teens in the community,” said Newbold. “Not every teenager would give up their Saturday, and we really appreciate the ones who do. The kids look up to them a lot, and enjoy spending the day with them.”
Corporate sponsors included: Pam Easterling & Big Pine Retreat Staff; the Rev. Steve Crews & Hamlet Church of God of Prophecy congregation; Richmond County Farm Bureau; Dr. Masoud Ahdieh; Biscuitville; Convenience Corner; BB&T; Ice ‘N Easy and Subway Restaurant on Hwy 1.
Staff writer Kelli Easterling can be reached at (910) 997-3111 ext. 18, or by email at email@example.com