Annie's Hope Faces Rising Grief Camp Costs
Annie’s Hope--The Bereavement Center for Kids is facing a new challenge in its ongoing efforts to support grieving St. Louis children, teens and families. As a result of past camp site availability conflicts this summer, the organization’s two grief camp sessions, Camp Courage (July 30-August 3, for children 6-12) and Camp Erin-St. Louis (August 5-9, for teens 13-18) have been forced to change location. This move will increase costs to the grief center by more than 15%. Amy Benner LaBelle, Development Director for Annie’s Hope explains, “This summer, the former location limited the amount of time Annie’s Hope could hold camp to half the required number of days. If we had elected to stay at the previous site we would have had to cancel one camp session or combine Camp Courage and Camp Erin-St. Louis into one session and taken half as many campers. Neither of these options was acceptable to us.”
While changing the site this summer has allowed both camp sessions to remain available to bereaved children and teens, and has enabled them to expand program activities, the new location’s increased distance from St. Louis and its later camp dates have resulted in higher transportation costs. Annie’s Hope, funded solely through grants, special events, corporate partnerships and individual donations, knows that this higher camp expense could possibly reduce available funding for its additional grief support programs, but also believes that the generosity of the St. Louis community can help support the center now, just as it has in the past.
Annie’s Hope’s Camp Courage and Camp Erin-St. Louis are overnight camps serving children and teens who are grieving the loss of someone significant. The camps provide participants with support through memorial ceremonies, time to reflect, and support circles. And they give campers the opportunity to play and swim, do arts and crafts, and learn about music, dance, and nature. Campers also have the chance to just have fun. Participation in Camp Courage and Camp Erin-St. Louis helps children and teens understand more about grieving, their feelings, and ways to cope. Most importantly, campers learn that they are not alone.
In addition to Camp Courage and Camp Erin-St. Louis, Annie’s Hope (located at 1333 W. Lockwood in Glendale) helps grieving children, teens, and families through its no-charge 8-week and monthly support groups, the Horizons anticipatory grief support program, retreats, social events, a community grief resource library, and school grief support and education. The organization also hosts a speakers’ institute, which works to educate community counseling professionals about grief support strategies. With more than 4,000 children in the St. Louis area expected to be newly bereaved this year, Annie’s Hope’s programs work together to fulfill its mission of providing comprehensive support services to children, teens and their families who are grieving the death of someone significant.