Anyone observing Camp Ray of Hope for the first time would never guess it’s a place for grieving families. They would see people of all ages participating in outdoor activities like boating and swimming, getting massages, eating treats around a campfire, and attending activities like cooking class and art centers. Most important is that the viewer would see lots of laughter, hugging, and love. What brings everyone together at Camp Ray of Hope is the common experience of the death of a significant person in their lives.
Camp Ray of Hope is a weekend retreat held annually for those who have lost someone they love. It was founded in 1995 to give grieving individuals and families a place to come together and learn new ways to cope with their loss, to meet others with similar circumstances, to remember special times, to make new friends, and to have fun. Participants come from all over the state to spend time with their families as they process the death of their loved one. Along with spending special time together, family members also participate in bereavement groups with others their own age. Adults will be with adults, teens with teens, and children with children. For example, children of the same age gather together with trained bereavement group facilitators to write stories about their loved ones, draw pictures, participate in arts & crafts, and go on nature hikes all with the focus of finding healthy ways to express their confusion and anger. The outcome is always healthy self-care techniques to help with understanding the loss.
Camp Ray of Hope is also a safe place for individuals to participate in a weekend retreat to meet others who have lost someone dear to them. Tears and talking about the loss of a loved one are welcomed and encouraged at the camp. In fact, everyone at Camp Ray of Hope comes for the same reason: a broken heart from the loss of a loved one. We are here to walk the path together in this serene and lovely environment where fresh air and healthy surroundings support inner peace and healing. It’s a great place to remember your loved one and to spend some time healing with others.
This year’s Camp Ray of Hope is from Friday, September 15 through Sunday, September 17 and is held at the beautiful Pine Tree Camp in Rome. For more information please contact Jillian Roy, Bereavement Coordinator at Hospice Volunteers of Waterville at 207-873-3615