Kids Find Space to Grieve, Grow at Catholic Bereavement Camp

Tags: Currents, Brooklyn, NY, Catholic Education, Faith, Family, Inspiration, Queens, NY

By Emily Drooby

Camp Compass looks just like a normal summer camp with barbecues, arts, crafts and sports. But for campers like Kyaire, it’s more than just fun and games.

Basketball has always been a part of his life because of his mother.

“She’s the one who taught me how to shoot a basketball. I was maybe around four or five years old, and she said, ‘I’m not going to have you sitting around the house no more looking bored. I’m going to teach you how to shoot a basketball, and I’m going to put you on a team and make sure you go to high school, college and the NBA,’” she told him.

That life dream was compromised when tragedy struck his family

“I lost my mom on September 15, 2017,” he explained.

Forced to deal with loss at only 12-years-old, Kyaire said he started acting out and losing focus on his future.

Then he turned to Calvary Hospital’s children’s bereavement programs.

“Speaking about his mother, and speaking about just the relationship he had with her, and speaking about how he can incorporate all the things he has learned from her to move forward with his journey,” has helped Kyaire let go of his anger and focus on his goals, said Rashida Sanchez, his bereavement counselor at Calvary Hospital.

Now Kaire plays basketball at Camp Compass.

“I take my anger and my emotions out on the court,” he said, identifying it as a way to cope with his grief and honor his mom.

Every camper at the week-long camp has one thing in common: they’ve lost someone they love

“Although children are not adults, they still need spaces like this to be able to speak to their emotions to speak to what is going on with them in their grief process. So I love that we are able here at calvary to create that space for them,” Rashida.

The camp, run by Catholics, allows children to have a supportive environment where they can remember and honor their loved ones. There are bereavement activities, projects, and events that include emotional support animals.

The camp is 100 percent free, 100 percent helpful, and most importantly “really fun,” said Clio, another camper. “Everybody, like over 50 people are here, and you can talk to literally anyone.”

That’s something that these children may not have had in a very long time.