NewsPinellas County


Camp Kangaroo helps kids process the loss of a loved one

Posted at 4:26 PM, Oct 14, 2019

Losing a loved one can be tough for anyone to process, but it can be especially difficult for kids.

Camp Kangaroo, a bereavement camp put on by the national non-profit Seasons Hospice Foundation, is specifically for kids to help them work through a difficult loss in their lives.

The first camp occurring locally took place at the Clearwater Marine Aquarium from October 13-14. The second camp will be held in Lutz from Nov. 1-3 at Suncoast Kids Place on the Bayhope Church Campus at 17030 Lakeshore Rd.

Fourteen-year-old Diana Vargas Granadino told ABC Action News that the camp at Clearwater Marine Aquarium has helped her with her own grief, after her brother Javier died in a south Florida car accident this spring.

“It really does change and make a difference, being surrounded by kids our ages and younger, we just learn from each other a lot,” Granadino said.

Yelena Zatulovsky, the vice president of patient experience with Seasons Healthcare Management, works with the non-profit that runs the camp. She said children can outpace adults when working through bereavement at a place like Camp Kangaroo.

“Kids are incredibly resilient, so what we can do in 2, 3, 4 days in camp is very different than perhaps what an adult will experience in a similar environment. The children just — once they hear that they’re not alone, they jump right in and they start sharing their emotions,” Zatulovsky said.

The kids will not only be able to take part in camp activities like arts, crafts games but there are also group activities that have a counseling based curriculum in which the children are given a comfortable space to share their grief.

Professionals are also on hand providing grief education and emotional support.

The camps are free of charge to the children, ages 5-18, who have been referred to the program.

For more information on Camp Kangaroo and to register, click here.