AUSTIN - In the hills of Wimberley, Texas, there's a camp for kids run by Hospice Austin. It's meant to be a haven for kids up to 18-years-old who have recently lost a parent or sibling.
"The idea is to give children a beautiful place to gather and spend some time with other children who are also grieving a loss," explained Hospice Austin Volunteer and Bereavement Services Director Nancy McCranie.
This year, they have more than 80 children attending camp who have all faced painful losses.
"They look like normal, happy kids," McCranie said. "You think, 'what could possibly be wrong?' And then you start hearing their stories, maybe a parent has committed suicide and the child actually discovered the scene. Some parents died in tragic accidents, sometimes they're violent deaths...things no one should have to go through, much less a young person."
The goal is to let campers know they're not alone, not different and that they can talk about their experiences if they want to.
Experiences that Tino Phillips and her brother Lance learned firsthand. They were campers 10 years ago at Camp Brave Heart and are now both counselors to the campers.
"A lot of times when you lose a loved one you lose track of where you're going so we just try to steer them the right way," Lance said.
"Honestly, it's what the kids say," Tino said. "You know you're not alone and you know that someone has gone through something similar to you and it's ok to talk about."
"These little people are fighting huge battles and we should all just be kind to each other," McCranie said. "You never know. some kid that's just canoeing or making a friendship bracelet may be really working with some difficult family dynamics and a really huge hole in their heart."
This year marked the 20th anniversary of the camp in Wimberley, a yearly tradition they plan to continue. And if you know someone who would be a good candidate for the camp, you can find out more information by clicking here.
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