Another Camp HOPE has come and gone, and we are left with the tan lines from that sunny day and the memories that remain. The weather, albeit a little hot for this former Montana girl, was perfect. The sun was shining, a nice breeze was continuous off the lake and we felt the blessings of the day before the families even arrived. Something that I love during our camps is that moment when the air changes. That moment when families start to arrive and things go from that event planning chaos to the calm and excitement of watching these people on their grief journey right in front of us.
Spring camp is very different from fall camp, in that you get to watch these participants in their family dynamic. You watch them grieve and learn and heal together.
I will never not be amazed by the tools of expression that are utilized in camp. Comparing a giant swing hoisted up in the tree to the feelings of helplessness that we experience after a loss. Then taking that comparison and driving it home by describing how to overcome those feelings. I could go through every tool of expression and gush about them for hours, but nothing comes close to seeing it in person. I watched families listen and absorb the lessons, I like to think I watched some healing too.
Equally as amazing to watch is the bereavement team in action. Not only them, but all the volunteers. You can see the fire and the passion that they have for these children and these families. It is beyond magical to be blessed enough to capture these moments from behind the lens of a camera. I will always be grateful for that. For healing. For camp. For Shepherds Cove. For the families. For the weather. For the day.
As another Memorial Day approaches, we become reflective on the service of our American heroes. I was born to a 7th generation Army veteran. My family’s history has been colored with service in the United States Military, so this particular holiday is a big one for us. My great-grandfather was killed in combat in WWII. My grandfather was 3 years old at the time, and this loss impacted him for years to come.
When my grandfather was just 16, he signed up to join the military. During that time, the need for active duty soldiers was pretty huge, so not many questions were asked. Well, not until my great-grandmother showed up as he was about to board the bus for basic training and demanded to know where her teenage son was going. She took him back home to Alder Springs that night. He officially enlisted when he was 18 years old, eager and ready to serve our country just like his father and his father’s father had before him. During his service, he married my grandmother, and they had two sons who would also go on to join. My father joined the Army, and my uncle joined the Navy.
None of the men in my family joined the military for the glory or the praise. They joined because it was what they felt like they needed to do. We have an equally rich military history on my mother’s side, her brother having gone to Vietnam. My father, my uncle and my grandfather don’t consider themselves veterans or heroes, but I do. They’re my heroes. It’s too often that those that sacrificed so much for our country do not see that sacrifice in themselves.
My story is not one that is incredibly unique – family full of those who have served but that also very much downplay their service. When a veteran comes to Shepherd’s Cove, we make sure they know we appreciate what they have done for us. We offer them an ear or a hand who can understand, many of our staff and volunteers being veterans themselves. It is such a small gesture to thank someone, especially for something so big. So, this Memorial Day, we would like do a tribute to those we have served who so selflessly served us. Check out the information at www.shepherdscovehospice.org/memorialday.