A fast, teary, joyful blur
Over a decade ago I remember hearing about a new Hospice & Palliative Care Charlotte Region kids grief camp called Chameleon’s Journey. I was intrigued and, quite frankly, too scared to get involved. Mother to young children (now ages 8 and 10), I didn’t think of myself as capable of helping. After all, I’ve been working in the senior care industry for the past 19 years. How could I possibly help a child who had lost a parent, a sibling, a grandparent, favorite uncle, aunt, or beloved neighbor? I was convinced that this surely was not a good fit for me.
However, as the years passed I read more about Chameleon’s Journey in the HPCCR newsletters, saw the photos of kids and heard the stories; powerful stories of children who overcame tremendous personal loss. Stories of kids first experiencing Chameleon’s Journey as a camper with raw emotions, then returning again and again, becoming junior counselors to help others and then some finally graduating to become counselors to help lead the way.
Through the years, I became familiar with the mission of the camp as well as the volunteers who tirelessly contributed their personal time and energy to make it a success. At the beginning of this year, I took a huge personal step, swallowed my fear, and called to ask about volunteering for Chameleon’s Journey.
I was assigned the task of documenting the weekend through photography. Often through a blurry lens (due to my own tears), I was given the extraordinary opportunity to capture every emotion, experience, activity, and ‘tell the story’ of this very special camp. I don’t need to refer to the actual images for they are forever in my memory. A teenage brother hugging his tiny brother during a grief session. Seven year olds waiting patiently in line to launch their memorial origami candle boat at sunset. Over one hundred colorful, warm lap quilts made by volunteers folded and waiting to be shared. Many, many bundles of pre-packed HPCCR backpacks, each with a stuffed teddy bear to be adopted by a camper.
There were also great moments of happiness and pure delight: a first zipline ride, splashing around the canoes, flashlight tag, rock wall climbing, and loads of singing in front of the campfire.
Chameleon’s Journey passed by in a fast, teary, joyful blur for me. The kids (as well as yours truly) learned much as it relates to the various emotions affiliated with grief and loss. We learned that chameleons change colors as their emotions change. When I reflect on this weekend, I can only say all the colors were there; along with a bright ray called Hope to wash away the fear and sadness. For this, I’m grateful.
This entry was posted on October 26, 2010 at 10:23 am and is filed under Chameleon's Journey, grief, hospice, special events, spiritual care, volunteering. You can subscribe via RSS 2.0 feed to this post's comments.comment below, or link to this permanent URL from your own site.