A fast, teary, joyful blur

by Anja Workman, Editor, All About Seniors

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.

Explore posts in the same categories: Chameleon's Journey, grief, hospice, special events, spiritual care, volunteering

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3 Comments on “A fast, teary, joyful blur”

  1. Katie Benston Says:

    Thank you, Anja. I’d love to see the photos you captured. Are they available?

  2. Nicole Wolfe Says:

    What a beautiful blog! Thank you for your participation this year. I have said for years that Chameleon’s Journey is 2 days that feeds my soul for the remaining 363 days of the year! What an honor to walk with this children at such a precious and intimate time in their lives. Nothing is more rewarding and humbling!

    • Anja Workman Says:

      I completely agree with you; Chameleon’s Journey is an amazing series of lessons and experiences. It was a privilege to witness these children with such an amazing spirit.

      I already can’t wait for CJ 2011… 🙂

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