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June 8, 2017
A Northwest Missouri State University faculty member and students are collaborating to offer a day camp this summer to help children in the region who may be coping with grief and loss.
Elizabeth Dimmitt, a senior instructor of psychology at Northwest, said she felt compelled to organize the camp after noticing a local need to assist grieving children and a gap in community resources available to meet the need. Dimmitt decided to offer the camp in Maryville after attending conferences where counselors and psychologists presented positive outcomes of similar camps.
“We have many kids who have lost a parent or grandparent to death or incarceration or may be involved with the foster system, but we also have kids who have lost a home or have gone through significant moves or have lost a sibling or a friend,” Dimmitt said. “This can leave children feeling confused and alone, even in the midst of loving family and friends. It is important that they have a place where they feel safe in expressing their emotions, seeing that others navigating a similar experience and we also want them to know that they are allowed to have fun again.”
Lindsey Madsen, a Northwest graduate student pursuing her master’s degree in guidance and counseling, is one of the students assisting Dimmitt and will assess the program in hopes of offering the camp annually. Having worked at various camp settings and observed children experiencing grief, Madsen, too, saw a need in the Maryville community.
“Seeing the need and knowing that we could potentially make a difference is really what sparked this interest,” Madsen said.
The camp is designed to help children establish friendships and a sense of belonging, Dimmitt said. It will help them explore feelings of grief while helping them develop skills to cope with those emotions. The camp also will offer some educational resources for parents and caregivers.
Campers will gather each day at the Mozingo Outdoor Education Recreation Area (MOERA), a 320-acre parcel of land at Mozingo Lake Recreation Park that is operated by Northwest’s School of Health Science and Wellness and provides a variety of outdoor education and recreation opportunities. Campers will participate in activities involving nature, music, art and games; older children will use MOERA’s ropes challenge course.
“This is a growth and healing for the youth and a resource for parents who know their kids need something but haven’t had the resources up to this point,” Dimmitt said. “It doesn’t have to be a recent loss because grief can be longstanding. It also doesn't need to be a child who is struggling but rather one who wants to just talk about their loved one.”
The camp experience is one day and will operate on three separate days to accommodate varied age groups – Wednesday, July 19, for 5 to 8 year-olds; Thursday, July 20, for 9 to 12-year-olds; and Friday, July 21 for 13 to 17 year-olds.
Registration is on a first-come, first-served basis, and the cost to register is $25 per person.
In addition to providing support for area children and their parents, the camp is offering a variety of opportunities for Northwest students and community members to get involved.
Already, more than a dozen Northwest students have worked to develop resources and collect research supporting the camp as an effective tool for helping children cope with grief. An advisory committee that includes eight Northwest faculty members also is assisting, and Dimmitt is actively seeking community partners and sponsors.
Participating Northwest students have enrolled in a summer course, titled Psychology of Childhood Grief and Loss, to learn theories of grief and loss. Students will gain an understanding of development needs of children and practice their skills at the camp.
“A lot of programs do not have classes on grief or loss, and when you get into the helping profession that’s one of the primary issues that you come across,” Dimmitt said. “Giving some of our students an opportunity to have that base knowledge can take them that much further when they get into their career.”
To register for the camp, visit www.nwmissouri.edu/rsvp/CampCOPE.
For more information about the camp or to offer assistance, contact Dimmitt at 660.562.1852 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Mark Hornickel, Communication Manager
email@example.com | 660.562.1704 | Fax: 660.562.1900
Northwest Missouri State University
215 Administration Building | 800 University Drive | Maryville, MO 64468