New Hope Kids Grief Camp

Debbie Vallandingham, LMSW-ASCW, Director of Grief Care Services

August 6, 2021

Angela Hospice Social Worker Sara Waters with a few of this year's participants at New Hope Kids Grief Camp, which took place July 22 and 23. All photos taken by Angela Hospice volunteer, Keith Kolodsick.

On July 22 and 23 Angela Hospice social workers joined New Hope to support the New Hope Kids Grief Camp, a day camp for children who have experienced the loss of a loved one. The camp seeks to help children communicate and explore their grief using groups, workshops, and activities led by staff and trained facilitators.

This year’s camp theme was “Grief is Messy,” and featured a pink pig in mud as the logo, which was very appropriate for an event held at Maybury Farm. This was the largest camp to date, with children between the ages of 5-14 in attendance, who participated in activities that were fun, creative, and most importantly, healing. 

“It was a fantastic camp,” said Debbie Vallandingham, Angela Hospice Director of Grief Care Services. “It’s amazing to see the children process and connect the lessons they learned with their feelings. We’re so happy to support this event.”

Designed to teach children that they are not alone in their grief, and to help them identify their feelings, support systems, and learn healthy coping skills, activities included interacting with animals who have suffered losses, equine therapy, and lots of pets and tail wags from the therapy dogs. Even the Northville Police got in on the action and were a large part of the camp both days. 

“It was my second year participating in the camp and I could see the growth and healing in the kids who have previously attended,” said Sara Waters, an Angela Hospice Social Worker who works with children. “I witnessed friendships form among the kids.”

One of her favorite moments surrounded the Crossing the Line event. In that activity, everyone stood together in a single straight line and the moderator would ask questions like, “Who has lost a mom?” or “Who has lost a brother?” If they had, that person would then step forward.

This was part of the opening ceremonies and allowed the kids to see who else had suffered losses that might be similar to their own.

Waters talked with a 7-year-old who attended the camp and he told her that one of his favorite parts was when they called for people who lost siblings to step forward. When he stepped forward, he was able to see he wasn’t the only one. 

“It was amazing,” Waters said. 


While feelings of grief are normal, handling them can be difficult and painful. Talking about what you are going through can help. Call 734.779.6690 to schedule an appointment. Or visit for our grief support calendar.

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