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Children’s Hospital Camp Wakchazi for Bereaved Siblings

Jun 25, 2019 | Volunteer

Today I had the honor of photographing for Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh. Their Supportive Care Team created a camp for children dealing with the grief of losing a sibling. This camp is called Camp Wakchazi and lasts for an entire week!

As most of you know, this idea hits home with me.

I did not lose my child to illness. However, my two youngest daughters lost their older sister before they were even born. They know her name and I do my best to teach them who she is. So, when offered the opportunity to provide photographs for the kids at camp, I raised my hand high!

I arrived at camp right after lunch, and we took a group photo of all the kids. Afterwards, the kids were taught about a few animals from members of the Pittsburgh Zoo. They even brought out 3 animals for the children to ask questions about and pet (gently with 2 fingers)!

I learned so much from these Zoo team members, and I know the kids did as well.

Pittsburgh Zoo visits Camp Wakchazi for Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh

After that, the kids split into two groups: 1 group played gaga ball (like dodge ball), 1 group created an art project to honor their sibling. The kids were to go into the woods to find flowers, leaves, rocks, etc. Then, they would use these items to build a clay imprint to represent themselves, their sibling, the past, the present, and the future.

Camp Wakchazi for Bereaved Siblings Art Project

Most importantly for me, the coordinator filled me in on some other events of the day. And one story just lit up my soul! The counselors asked the kids to write their names on their water bottles. After one child put his name, he immediately put his sibling’s name right after it. To me, this just shows how amazing this camp is.

Camp Wakchazi truly lets these kids be themselves, have an outlet for their grief, and express themselves in safe place.

Everyone there knows what they are going through. They can uniquely identify with each other. And this lets the children feel comfortable with what has happened in their lives.

Camp Wakchazi for Bereaved Siblings

In short, I can only hope to be part of similar events at Children’s Hospital in the future. I cannot say thank you enough to the Supportive Care Team for what they are doing for these children this week. My heart goes out to each and every one!