For children, dealing with the death of a loved one can be extremely challenging. Children grieve differently from adults, and may benefit from child-centered ways to express feelings of loss.
Katerpillar Kids Camp display at Children’s Museum of Oak RidgeVariety’s Katerpillar Kids Camp is a special weekend camp for children and teens in grades 1-12 who are grieving the death of a loved one. The free camp is funded by Variety’s Children’s Charity and presented as a community service by Covenant Hospice. The camp provides a safe and understanding environment where common experiences of loss can be shared.
Each year, participants create a special project to commemorate their camp experiences. For several years, campers have been given quilt squares to decorate as they wish to honor those they have lost. The squares are collected and a memorial quilt is made for that year’s group.
This year’s session, scheduled for Oct. 5-6 in Townsend, Tenn., marks the camp’s 20th anniversary. In honor of the anniversary, six of the nine memorial quilts that have been created will be on display through the summer and fall at the Children’s Museum of Oak Ridge. Visitors to the museum can see the display at the museum’s Imagination Gallery, and can view firsthand the children’s camp experiences and the Katerpillar Kids’ 20-year history of healing.
“It is not always easy for children to express their feelings about the people they have lost,” said Katie McLaughlin, coordinator of Katerpillar Kids Camp. “Some children do well with speaking and some with writing. The quilt squares are another creative outlet for the children to express what is on their minds.
The quilt squares for each camp have been put together and finished by community volunteers. “I am so thankful that these campers let us see a little bit inside their thoughts,” McLaughlin continued. “Each square is unique, and when they are put together, it represents how all the campers were there to help each other. Working together is what the quilt is about.”
The exhibit also includes some of the other camp projects including handmade memory boxes and stuffed caterpillars, along with colorful bandanas given to the children to wear during Katerpillar Kids Camp.
To learn more about the camp or to register for this year’s session, visit Katerpillar Kids Camp.