New experiences. Familiar comfort. Chameleon’s Journey.

by Larry Dawalt, Senior Director of Spiritual & Grief Care Services / Chameleon’s Journey Camp Director

Stacks of quilts just waiting to be chosen

Stacks of quilts just waiting to be chosen at Chameleon’s Journey

For those of us who have been here from the beginning, last weekend’s 14th edition of Chameleon’s Journey was very familiar.  We plan for eleven months and then we carry out that plan, and do so within the time span of about 32 hours.

But for many of our 96 campers, Chameleon’s Journey was new.  Though not as new as living without that hugely important person in their lives; the loss which brought them to our grief camp in the first place. They’d never heard the story of the chameleon who lost its special friend; never seen ten groups of campers all in different colored T-shirts; never experienced the combination of grief education, recreation, memorializing, and fun that makes up the camp; and never met our caring, compassionate staff.  Some had never even been to Camp Thunderbird.

Summing up Chameleon’s Journey in a few paragraphs is impossible to do, but I think the quilts say it best.  Each of our campers was able to pick out a beautiful quilt which was handmade by Lisa Verrier-Christy and her merry band of workers.  Not only do the quilts represent the many hours spent planning and working to develop the little details of camp, but they also embody the genuine warmth of our staff.  They demonstrate that we are here when needed — during the season of grief.

We had some firsts this year, including a camper who lost a tooth and another camper who performed a song he had written for his 10-year-old sister who died tragically this summer.  We also had about as many boys as girls, and that made for a great display of energy — a great display indeed.

As I think about year 15 being around the corner, my planning brain automatically switches into high gear.  But as I slow down, I see the faces and hear the voices from this past weekend; children who started out barely speaking to each other, but ended up becoming dear friends because they can understand each other’s pain.  And I think of our wonderful staff of HPCCR employees, HPCCR volunteers, Junior League of Charlotte volunteers, and others who do such a wonderful job taking care of these hurting hearts.

As in previous years, some of our campers will return for another round of Chameleon’s Journey next year.  But there are those who, right now, have no idea that they’ll be here next year because they haven’t even experienced their loss yet.  For those tender souls, we send hugs in advance and give thanks for the opportunity to gather again on the shores of Lake Wylie and accompany them on their journey of grief.

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

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One Comment on “New experiences. Familiar comfort. Chameleon’s Journey.”

  1. Jim Young Says:

    I was moved by this story, I have thought of volunteering for this amazing journey of grief and reflection. Chameleon’s Journey represents the best in humanities compassion. I am very proud of every person who takes that journey

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