Camp Swan aims to help young children cope with grief

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - Losing a loved one can be especially hard for young children. That's why Camp Swan has made it their mission to help those kids cope with the pain.

Lexie Desnoyers lost her dad in January. Lexie's mom encouraged her to attend the camp so she could meet other children going through the same thing.

"It helps me think about my dad and more like happy memories then sad memories," said Lexie.

One of the first activities the campers participated in was painting bird houses. They were encouraged to decorate them in a way that reminded them of their lost loved one.

"On the other side I drew a picture of the beach, because he didn't like going to the beach but he would go because it made us happy," said Lexie.

Camp Swan is sponsored by Cannon Hospice and is free of charge for all children who attend. The campers participate in group exercises where they express their feelings and usually shed some tears.

"We find that the children have trouble communicating, and our point here is to make sure we give them an avenue so they can share their feelings," said Joshua Bruce who is a Camp Swan organizer.

The counselors at Camp Swan range from students majoring in social work to clinical psychologists. That doesn't mean some of the counselors haven't gone through the same thing as these children.

"When I was young I felt like I was alone and I felt like I was isolated, and it was one of the toughest experiences of my entire life," said Bruce.

Bruce says he got through his mother's death by surrounding himself with encouraging people. That's why he is so devoted to Camp Swan and their mission to help these children.

The camp originated in New Orleans, but has hosted an annual session in Biloxi for the past six years.

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