SSM Health hosts Camp Magic for grieving kids

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JEFFERSON CITY - SSM Health at Home Hospice hosted the third Camp Magic on Saturday for kids who are dealing with the loss of a loved one. 

Children do various activities throughout the day, including a challenge course done by the Jefferson City Parks and Recreation department and group grief counseling. 

Branch manager for SSM Health at Home Hospice, Jony Lootens, said the camp was developed to help serve families in the community and give parents resources to help them with the grieving process, as well as their children.

"One of the needs we were seeing throughout the community was dealing with children and grief," Lootens said. "There weren't a lot of resources for it and they are kind of the forgotten mourners."

She said the camp is a safe place for children to express their grief. 

Lootens said the camp is great because it allows for children to come meet with other children who have lost a love one, create a sense of normalcy and help them cope with grief.

"Camp Magic is so helpful for kids and everyone forgets kids when they are grieving," said volunteer and former participant Connie Haslag. 

Haslag said her grandson had such a good time and the camp was so helpful last year that they came back again. 

Haslag said her grandson, Owen, had a difficult time after her husband passed away. She said the two were very close. 

"It gave him an outlet to get his anger out and give him steps to channel his anger, his loss, his ways of doing it," Haslag said. "It gave him confidence to talk about it." 

SSM offices in St. Louis and Southern Illinois also offer camps for grieving children.