Children weren’t meant to lose people, especially in their immediate family. Their minds weren’t designed for the experience of sudden loss — whether through death, divorce, or separation.
When these losses do happen, caregivers are often at a loss of how to help the children involved. They do the best they can, realizing that more still needs to be done.
That’s where Camp Heal-a-Heart comes in. It was founded in the early 90’s as a place where grieving children:
– Could build real and lasting friendships.
– Could mourn in loving company.
– Could move from surviving to thriving.
– Could have incredible amounts of fun.
The program still continues today. Two overnight camp sessions of five days each are held every August, just south of Grande Prairie (at Pineridge Adventure Camp’s facilities). Overnight camps are for youth aged 9-15. (Day camps are also available elsewhere in July for ages 5-9).
Residents within the City and County of Grande Prairie are offered admission on a sliding fee scale. Residents outside of this jurisdiction may also access the camp services at determined rates.
Camp Heal-a-Heart (or “He-a-He”) focuses on reducing the feelings of isolation by providing an opportunity for kids to meet peers who are also experiencing loss.
Camp programming focuses on identifying feelings, improving coping-skills, and self-esteem enhancement. Common activities include games, arts and crafts, small group sessions, campfires, s’mores, story-telling, and lots more.
To be effective, the camp maintains a low ratio of staff to children and youth. The volunteers adopt a very intentional approach towards helping each camper to feel accepted and appreciated on their own unique terms.