SHAVERTOWN, Pa. — Each summer since 2013, they have had a special camp at The Lands at Hillside Farms for children coping with different kinds of loss through death, illness, addiction, or divorce.
They are grieving and in need of healing.
“They take care of the animals, they muck stalls which is cleaning stalls, they feed the animals, walk the animals, they read to the animals which is one of the favorite activities," said Suzanne Kapral of The Lands at Hillside Farms.
Organizers say there will be a grief camp again this August.
The kids will play and work at the farm, doing chores and attending grief sessions, bonding and learning from others like them.
“We’re not promising that any child is going to heal in one, two, or three weeks. The whole idea is to get them comfortable with what they’re feeling and reduce the isolation they’re feeling because of the trauma they’ve experienced.”
Organizers believe the recent health crisis has made their mission more important than ever because kids already struggling with grief and trauma are now dealing with even more anxiety.
“These children were with their classmates one day and then the next day they weren’t. It just all went away and many of these children didn’t have a chance to say goodbye, they didn’t have a chance to get their things from their classrooms and you know, coming from a child’s perspective, if my friends could disappear like that, what about mom or dad my grandmother or my grandfather," said Kapral.
The children who attend the camp come from all over northeastern Pennsylvania.
The Lands at Hillside Farms is a historic, nonprofit educational dairy farm. Students work side-by-side with educators and "co-faculty" farm animals to learn about science, agriculture, ecology, history, nutrition, animal husbandry, land conservation, sustainable living, and community service, according to their website.