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Summer camp heals children’s grief

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By: Mary J McGoffin

(Photo of Skagit County youth who attended Camp Willie through The Landing and United General 304)

Fourteen years ago, Sandi Sims from Sedro-Woolley saw the need for a bereavement program specifically for children. Today The Landing, the only one of its kind in the region,  has grown to  assist 15-20 children per month, including outreach groups at Cascade Middle School and Sedro-Woolley High School.  Trained volunteers serve children and teens ranging in age from three to eighteen from Skagit, Whatcom and Snohomish Counties.  A $5,000 grant from a Donor Advised Fund at the  Skagit Community Foundation provided eight full scholarships for children to attend Camp Willie, a bereavement camp at Lake Goodwin this summer.  “When the children arrive, each one gets a ribbon, with different colors signifying the kind of death of the family member and they are attached to a white flag.  Each morning and evening, the campers gather for a flag ceremony to hoist and take down the flag,” said Sandi Sims who spent a week volunteering at the camp. It becomes a shared ritual of remembrance.   “Our kids truly open up,” she continued.  “They start out homesick but by closing ceremony on Friday they can’t wait  to come back next year.”  During the day, campers as young as seven years old, participate in all the traditional summer fun:  horseback riding, archery, crafts, canoeing, swimming, learning camp songs and performing skits. “The kids help each other through the bad moments,” said Sandi.  At the Skagit Community Foundation, we are glad to support such a special healing place for kids.

For more information about the Landing,  visit https://unitedgeneral.org/the-landing/

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