East Texas non-profit has been helping kids cope with grief for more than a decade

Heartsway Hospice Northeast Texas kicked off it’s annual grief camp.
Published: Jun. 7, 2023 at 8:33 AM CDT
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LONGVIEW, Texas (KLTV/KTRE) - The non-profit HeartsWay Hospice Northeast Texas, has been doing grief camps for kids for over a decade.

This year, they hosted at the New Beginnings Baptist Church in Longview.

The free three-day camp is designed to teach kids ages six to 15 about coping mechanisms to deal with their grief, something Rex Fennell with HeartsWay says is necessary.

“We noticed that in our community there was no outlet for kids who had a significant loss to be able to express that, said Fennell, “Emotions are God-given and they’re okay, we want to give them healthy ways to express that and process that.”

Each year, they have a different theme they focus on and this year’s theme is Quest, they will hear the challenges of going to different locations, and all of that will be tied in with grief.

“It’s an obstacle that we weren’t expecting, something we didn’t know we had to be dealing with and so we talk about the coping skills to meet those challenges,” said Fennell.

Nearly all children participating in the camp have experienced a loss whether that be a parent, sibling, or another family member.

That was the case for Wesson and Preston who came to the grief camp for the first time this year.

“We spent two hours playing arcade games and mini golf and go-kart racing, that was fun I wanted to do it again but that was right before he passed away in January, said Wesson Smith who lost his grandpa. “It’s like hard not being able to talk to him every day that’s really it.”

And for Preston, he lost his great-grandma and recalls her memory.

“I missed her so much in the time she was with us but now that she’s you know gone, it’s harder to focus on things, to you know that you have someone,” said Preston Jackson.

Even though it’s hard processing the death of their loved one they are learning to cope through activities

“And really introducing myself there and getting to know people, I already made friends,” said Wesson.

" We did chapel, we did mortal combat lots of fun games, activities we painted rocks that’s been really fun,” said Preston.

The camp does require parents to register beforehand and it’s completely free.

In case you missed this year’s grief camps, Heartsway Hospice provides grief support services.

You can visit their website to know which of the four locations are closer to you.