Camp New Dawn wraps up 24th year

The Kent Island Bay Times - - Obituaries - By KATIE WIL­LIS

CEN­TRE­VILLE — Com­pass Re­gional Hospice re­cently com­pleted its 24th Camp New Dawn, a grief re­treat sum­mer camp for chil­dren, teens and fam­i­lies, held an­nu­ally at Camp Pe­cometh on the Ch­ester River near Cen­tre­ville.

“Re­mem­brance is nec­es­sary in heal­ing. You may not re­al­ize it at first, but Camp New Dawn helps you to take a step for­ward; just by show­ing up, hon­or­ing, re­mem­ber­ing and cry­ing for your loved ones … you move for­ward, just a lit­tle bit. Some­how, you walk through a door­way,” Camp New Dawn Di­rec­tor Rhonda Knotts said.

The re­treat, which took place from Aug. 18 to 21, is de­signed to meet the needs of all ages and stages of grief, serv­ing chil­dren and teens be­tween the ages of 4 and 17, as well as their fam­i­lies. This year, 92 chil­dren and eight fam­i­lies were ser ved by Camp New Dawn.

Of those num­bers, 35 par­tic­i­pants were from Queen Anne’s County, 25 were from Caro­line County and 12 were from Kent County. Other camp par­tic­i­pants were from other Mid-Shore and Mary­land coun­ties, and some came from Delaware to take part in camp.

“It’s just a re­flec­tion of our com­mu­nity, the losses they have suf­fered and the pain that is still out there,” said Knotts, who has been in­volved with the camp for nearly 20 years.

Nearly 120 vol­un­teers were on hand dur­ing the camp to make sure it ran smoothly. About two dozen more as­sisted with prepa­ra­tions prior to camp be­gin­ning.

The most vis­i­ble vol­un­teers are “Bud­dies” — car­ing and com­pas­sion­ate adults who were paired up with campers to pro­vide sup­port. There also were sup­port staff vol­un­teers who tended to ev­ery de­tail of camp by help­ing plan, set up and fa­cil­i­tate ac­tiv­i­ties.

For­mer campers, “PALS” and “Cam­patiers,” were found help­ing in a va­ri­ety of ways around camp, as well as shar­ing their own per­sonal camp ex­pe­ri­ences with new campers.

Knotts said ev­ery year the camp is notably full of amaz­ing vol­un­teers and mem­o­rable sup­port groups, but this year, she also noted the im­pact of the younger vol­un­teers — how many campers even­tu­ally be­come vol­un­teers, help­ing other chil­dren and fam­i­lies through dif­fi­cult pe­ri­ods of grief.

“I get so emo­tional about our vol­un­teers, be­cause they just keep show­ing up, ev­ery year,” Knotts said. “It’s th­ese kids, too, th­ese young adults, who, if we can give them pieces of this, they re­ally can — through ideas of their own — make Camp New Dawn grow into the fu­ture.

Knotts said it is not just the vis­i­ble vol­un­teers that make Camp New Dawn so spe­cial, but the ones be­hind the scenes, as well. Sev­eral of those be­hind-the-scenes vol­un­teers in­clude the An­thony fam­ily and sev­eral friends who make the open­ing night cook­out pos­si­ble; Carolyn Moorse­head, who pur­chased all the food for the open­ing night cook­out; Karla Hor­ton of Dragon­fly Pad­dle and Fit­ness, who of­fered to teach yoga to chil­dren dur­ing open­ing night ther­a­peu­tic ac­tiv­i­ties, and Jes­sica Pal­men, who of­fered to teach yoga to chil­dren dur­ing open­ing night ther­a­peu­tic ac­tiv­i­ties; Dave Briguglio of Ridgely and owner of Greener Sys­tems LLC, and sev­eral of his friends, who cook and pro­vide board­walk fries to the campers dur­ing the open­ing night cook­out; JC Warner, who bought all the sup­plies for one of the ther­a­peu­tic ac­tiv­i­ties; and count­less oth­ers who vol­un­teer their time, tal­ents and money to make sure the campers have a unique and mem­o­rable ex­pe­ri­ence — be­fore, dur­ing and af­ter camp.

One such vol­un­teer is Nathan Pow­ell, who spent two weeks prior to the start of Camp New Dawn mak­ing gal­lons of home­made vanilla ice cream for the campers to en­joy dur­ing the open­ing night cook­out.

“You know, it’s not the idea of him mak­ing the ice cream, re­ally, it’s the idea of the devo­tion,” Knotts said. “What peo­ple are will­ing to do to some­how make Camp New Dawn even more spe­cial. Dr. (Thomas) Walsh (Com­pass Re­gional Hospice’s chief med­i­cal di­rec­tor) had a snow cone mo­bile show up on Mon­day dur­ing camp; Ge­or­gia and Jim Wilk­i­son ar­ranged for a snow cone mo­bile to show up on Sun­day, in the heat of the af­ter­noon … snow cones for ev­ery vol­un­teer and ev­ery kid.”

“It’s not the gift, it’s the idea that they want to make it more mem­o­rable for th­ese kids,” Knotts said.

Knotts said the Au­gust re­treat helps par­tic­i­pants learn healthy ways to ex­press their grief.

“Un­der the guid­ance of pro­fes­sional grief sup­port staff and spe­cially trained vol­un­teers, par­tic­i­pants are taught healthy ways to ex­press their grief in a safe, sup­port­ive and fun en­vi­ron­ment, while also get­ting to know oth­ers who are on a sim­i­lar jour­ney,” Knotts said.

Campers ages 7 to 17 at­tended ther­a­peu­tic work­shops, age-spe­cific grief sup­port groups and su­per­vised camp ac­tiv­i­ties, such as swim­ming, fish­ing, drum­ming, yoga and arts and crafts.

Knotts said Com­pass Re­gional Hospice is “deeply grate­ful and ap­pre­cia­tive for all the sup­port from Camp Pe­cometh’s staff.”

Camp New Dawn also in­cluded an overnight adult and fam­ily re­treat that be­gan Sun­day, Aug. 19. While their campers were busy learn­ing how to cope with their grief, par­ents and guardians were in­vited to at­tend the adult re­treat de­signed to help re­store par­tic­i­pants to a place of whole­ness as they learn to nav­i­gate their own grief jour­ney.

Ac­tiv­i­ties in­cluded grief sup­port groups, ther­a­peu­tic work­shops and restora­tive ac­tiv­i­ties, such as sun­rise yoga and na­ture walks. The adults then were then joined by their chil­dren for overnight fam­ily camp, where they came to­gether to learn skills they could take home with them. A mini re­treat for chil­dren ages 4 to 6 was held Mon­day, Aug. 20.

The cost of Camp New Dawn was $30 per camper and $75 per fam­ily. Th­ese fees rep­re­sent a small frac­tion of the ac­tual cost of op­er­at­ing Camp New Dawn and no one is ever turned away be­cause of an in­abil­ity to pay. Com­pass Re­gional Hospice re­lies on com­mu­nity do­na­tions, grants and fundrais­ing events to cover ex­penses, so that any­one who needs to at­tend may par­tic­i­pate in Camp New Dawn.

Knotts said she is grate­ful for a com­mu­nity who cares and who de­voted time, re­sources and fund­ing to make sure camp is avail­able to those who need it.

“Camp New Dawn is a year-round pri­or­ity for us at Com­pass Re­gional Hospice,” Knotts said. “We work re­ally hard all year to make sure we have what we need for th­ese chil­dren and fam­i­lies.”

For more in­for­ma­tion about Camp New Dawn, con­tact Knotts at 443-2624109 or rknotts@com­pass­re­gion­al­hos­pice.org. For more in­for­ma­tion about vol­un­teer­ing for Camp New Dawn, con­tact Court­ney Wil­liams, as­sis­tant Camp New Dawn di­rec­tor, at 443-262-4112 or cwilliams@com­pass­re­gion­al­hos­pice.org. For more in­for­ma­tion about do­nat­ing to Camp New Dawn, con­tact Kenda Lea­ger, de­vel­op­ment of­fi­cer, at 443-262-4106 or klea­ger@com­pass­re­gional hospice.org.

Com­pass Re­gional Hospice re­cently com­pleted its 24th Camp New Dawn, a grief re­treat sum­mer camp for chil­dren, teens and fam­i­lies, held an­nu­ally at Camp Pe­cometh on the Ch­ester River near Cen­tre­ville. Pic­tured are par­tic­i­pants fol­low­ing a ther­a­peu­tic ac­tiv­ity that in­volved spray-paint­ing a van to ex­press their feel­ings.

CON­TRIB­UTED PHO­TOS

Camp New Dawn par­tic­i­pants cre­ate a project us­ing a can­vas and crayons dur­ing the first night of camp. The can­vases are meant to help campers ex­press how they felt in their grief and their hope for heal­ing.

From left are Com­pass Re­gional Hospice’s Camp New Dawn Di­rec­tor Rhonda Knotts and Nathan Pow­ell, who as­sisted the An­thony fam­ily dur­ing the camp’s open­ing night cook­out. Pow­ell also spent weeks be­fore camp started mak­ing gal­lons of home­made vanilla ice cream for the campers to en­joy.

Dur­ing clos­ing cer­e­monies at Camp New Dawn, campers and vol­un­teers walk to the cer­e­mony to­gether while chant­ing “We Heal. We Laugh. We Cre­ate.”

CON­TRIB­UTED PHO­TOS

Camp New Dawn vol­un­teer Do­minic DiGiovine watches as a camper catches a fish dur­ing the an­nual grief re­treat sum­mer camp for chil­dren, teens and fam­i­lies, hosted by Com­pass Re­gional Hospice.

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