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Bereavement camp helps kids cope with loss

Volunteers and campers last year at Camp Angel Wings, a bereavement camp for kids. It will take place in Freetown next weekend. Volunteers and campers last year at Camp Angel Wings, a bereavement camp for kids. It will take place in Freetown next weekend.
By Paul E. Kandarian
July 24, 2011

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Losing a loved one is never easy, no matter the age. But the eighth annual Camp Angel Wings tries to help children cope as best they can.

The camp is a bereavement weekend for children ages 6 through 17, and will take place at Cathedral Camp in Freetown next Saturday and Sunday, with fun, games, and more than a few touching moments, said camp director Jo-Ann Richard.

“Some activities have changed - we’ll still have fun ones, like music, swimming, and arts and crafts, but this year we’re really geared toward the bereavement process,’’ Richard said of the program, which expects to have 120 children. “We’ll have a video, ‘Tear Soup,’ about a grieving grandmother who lost her husband, and how her granddaughter watches her cry and talks about making tear soup.’’

After the video airs, children at camp will write their own feelings about a loss on a piece of paper in the shape of a vegetable, drop them all in a pot, stir it up and later take a cup of the soup to put on the shelf at home.

“After time, the soup isn’t so strong,’’ Richard said. “In time, the pain lessens.’’

Children this year will also make a mask, write their feelings on it, and at the camp’s closing ceremony, will take it off, with other kids, “to unmask their feelings,’’ Richard said.

The day camp has picked up in popularity each of the years it has been held, she said, and this year’s attendance is the largest, because of the move to Cathedral Camp. Previously, it was held in a smaller location in Mattapoisett.

Volunteers play a huge part in the success of the program, she said, with about 140 in all, from all walks of life.

“We have nurses, social workers, teachers, mothers, grandmothers,’’ she said. “Everyone deals with loss, they all have experience with it.’’

The most moving part of the weekend is the closing ceremony, with each child saying aloud whom he or she remembers.

“They are all given a voice, they’re all heard,’’ Richard said, adding that when kids first come into camp, each wears a name tag with the relation of the lost loved one underneath. “This shows them they are not alone. Kids usually don’t talk about the death of anyone to friends or in school, but when they come in, with their name tags and under them are ‘mother’ or ‘father,’ and see others with name tags, they realize they’re not alone. Communication opens up.’’

The camp is sponsored by Southcoast Home Care, Hospice and Palliative Care and Infusion Services. For more information, visit

TEACHERS TAKE ASTRONAUT TRAINING: Three teachers from this area were among 250 chosen from 47 states and 27 countries who earned scholarships to Honeywell Educators at Space Academy at the US Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville, Ala., last month.

Their week of camp included astronaut training such as high-performance jet simulation, scenario-based space missions, and water-survival training.

The teachers were Ari Joniec of Quincy, from Randolph Community Middle School; Erin Smith of Randolph, a colleague at the middle school; and Lori Hammerstrom of Hingham, of Merrymount School in Quincy.

SHARON YOUTH ESSAY WINNER: Anay Mehta, a 10-year-old from Sharon, was the spring 2011 Massachusetts first-place winner of the SIFMA Foundation’s InvestWrite student-essay competition, sponsored by the SIFMA Foundation and SIFMA member firms. He also claimed top prize for the elementary school division.

As a culminating activity for the country’s 600,000 participants in the annual Stock Market Game, InvestWrite challenges fourth- to 12th-graders to analyze an investment scenario, and provide long-term financial plans. Anay, who was one of 20,000 students nationwide taking the challenge, is home schooled and attends the Perduco Education enrichment program in Foxborough.

In his essay, Mehta was asked to pick a product and explain why investing in its parent company would be a good or bad decision. He picked Sony’s PlayStation 3, one he uses regularly and deemed a good investment because, he said, of Sony’s “innovative technology, philanthropic deeds, and ambitious goal to make our earth a healthy place.’’

InvestWrite’s Stock Market Game has reached more than 12 million students since it began in 1977. For more information, visit

BUSINESS BRIEFS: Financial industry veterans Jonathan Sloane and Dennis McCarron have launched the Quincy-based Sloane McCarron Capital Advisors LLC, a firm that assists clients with family financial planning and wealth management. Sloane, of Osterville, is former co-CEO of Century Bank in Medford and has more than 30 years experience in banking and finance. McCarron, of Norwell, is former executive vice president and chief operating officer at US Wealth Management, and has served as a consultant to a number of wealth-management firms.

Paul E. Kandarian can be reached at

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