Annual camp helps grieving children - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Annual camp helps grieving children

The camp is for kids who have lost a loved one. (Photo source: WLOX) The camp is for kids who have lost a loved one. (Photo source: WLOX)
SOUTH MISSISSIPPI (WLOX) -

Twenty-five children are in town for a three-day camping trip at Seashore United Methodist Church. The occasion: the 9th annual gathering at Camp Swan.

Even though they may look like your average campers, the kids all share a unique bond. 

"Camp Swan is for children ages seven to 12 who have lost somebody close to them. It gives them a chance to open up and talk about their feelings," said Camp administrator Joshua Bruce. 

The children participate in activities ranging from animal therapy, to art design. Saturday's special project was creating a birdhouse for their loved one. 

"The kids have a chance to really express how they feel about their loved ones. After they're done with that, they paint their expression and hang it up in a tree for their loved ones to be able to watch down on it," said Bruce. 

Nine-year-old Alleigh Lardner created her birdhouse for her grandfather. 

"My birdhouse represents my papa. If you see a lot of purple on it, it's because his favorite color was purple. On the back it has a heart on it because he loved LSU," said Ladner. 

Ten-year-old Joey Rodriguez created his birdhouse for his late grandmother. 

"She was nice and she died because she stopped breathing. Makes me sad that it reminds me of my grandma," said Rodriguez.

Bruce can definitely relate to the campers because he shares a similar story. 

"We started this camp after my mom died drastically when I was 12 years old. Every year we've been trying to live in her memory," said Bruce.

Even though the administrator is the man behind the camp, it certainly takes the community to keep everything going. 

"I have been the camp nurse for the last eight years, and it's a wonderful experience. You take more away when you leave then you have when you get here," said Emily Pharr. 

Campers will remain at Camp Swan until Sunday. Bruce says he hopes to continue the tradition with the 10th anniversary in 2018.

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