Albert Lea clinic to host day camp for children handling grief

Published 11:15 am Monday, April 21, 2014

Jennifer Westerlund, left, and Marietta Stein stand in the Hospice department at Mayo Clinic Health System in Albert Lea. Westerlund and Stein will be running Albert Lea’s first day camp for teens and children who have experienced a loss. – Tiffany Krupke/Albert Lea Tribune

Jennifer Westerlund, left, and Marietta Stein stand in the Hospice department at Mayo Clinic Health System in Albert Lea. Westerlund and Stein will be running Albert Lea’s first day camp for teens and children who have experienced a loss. – Tiffany Krupke/Albert Lea Tribune

They hope to create a comforting atmosphere for teens and children who have experienced a loss.

Marietta Stein and Jennifer Westerlund, bereavement staff for the Mayo Clinic Health System in Albert Lea, will host a camp for children and teens in Albert Lea.

The camp will run from 9:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. on May 17 at Brookside Education Center and is free of charge.

The camp is called Helping Hearts Heal and is for children and teens in grades kindergarten through 12th.

The activities are designed to help participants understand their feelings and to know that they are not alone in their grief.

“Children tend to be the forgotten survivors,” Stein said. “We are hoping the camp will give them the opportunity to explore and deal with their feelings.”

Stein said children who have experienced a loss need to hear different verbs.

“It is important to talk to them in a way they can understand,” Stein said. Children have a different mindset when processing a loss and often have a lot of questions.

The camp will provide a safe area for the children and teens to talk, she said.

Westerlund, who worked on the curriculum, said they are incorporating physical activities to make attendees more comfortable.

“We want to emphasize taking good care of themselves. We also want to zero in on feelings and memories,” Westerlund said.

She said an example of a helpful exercise for attendees is creating a photo collage that reminds them of the loved one they have lost.

They also hope to utilize some of the resources at Brookside, like the rock wall.

“We are hoping for good weather,” Stein said.

About 20 hospice volunteer, community members and staff will be involved with the camp.

Westerlund said they hope the camp will be an annual event.

For more information or for registration materials call 373-6393. Registration must be received by May 2.