The Free Press, Mankato, MN


September 29, 2013

Kids deal with grief at Camp Oz

The camp brings children together who have lost loved ones

They are kids who have lost parents. Some have lost friends, children their own age. For many, they've lost grandparents.

The loss is what unfortunately connects them. And the camp they all attend, Camp Oz, is part of what helps them deal with that loss together.

“I think kids who lose somebody, they think that they're alone and nobody really understands … but at this camp, they can meet other kids that have suffered a loss,” said Jeanne Atkinson, hospice bereavement coordinator at Mayo Clinic Health System in Mankato. “They can connect with other kids and know they're not alone.”

For the past eight years, the one-day Camp Oz event has offered children and families a combination of grief support and fun activities. Held at Bass Lake Camp in Winnebago, children are given opportunities to open up about their lost loved ones, to share in a group setting, to create memory art projects, and to engage in outdoor activities, such as rock-wall climbing and, this year, relay races.

Kellie Jansen, 22, attended camp the first year it opened when she was in ninth grade. When she was 5 months old, her 2-year-old brother drowned in the river in their backyard in rural Good Thunder.

“I guess I didn't really struggle with it too much as a child, but after eighth grade, I really started wondering what happened, why it happened and just not being able to remember him,” Jansen said.

Jansen's experience at Camp Oz did a lot for her, she said. She learned in that one day that she wasn't alone and that it was OK to be feeling what she was feeling. So for the past five years or so, she's gone back to the camp as a volunteer.

“It was definitely my experience (that made me volunteer). I just wanted to give back,” she said.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide
NDN Video
Jessica Alba Is A Dame To Kill For At Comic Con Jaime King Reveals Fertility Struggle Rob Moravsky at the American Ninja Warrior 2014 St. Louis Finals Is Kim Kardashian Obsessed with Taking Selfies? See Piper Perabo's Unique Wedding Dress. Is Charlize Theron Wearing An Engagement Ring? A Star is Painted Blue for Comic-Con Paris Hilton back in a swimsuit for Carl's Jr. and Hardee's burger commercial Could Sandra Bullock Be Leaving Hollywood After Recent Home Intrusion? Megan Fox Turns Up The Heat At Comic Con Gwyneth Paltrow Did What? Zack Snyder Shares An All-New Batfleck Photo The Secret Behind Sofia Vergara's Gorgeous Hair You're Not Going to Believe Who's Turning 50! Taylor Swift Looks Terrific in a Tummy-Baring Style Joan Rivers Calls Kristen Stewart a "Moron" Blake Lively's Wedding Dress Revealed?! Hillary Clinton Blamed Bill's Affair With Monica Lewinsky On Abuse He Suffered As A Child 'Fifty Shades of Grey': Watch the Super Sexy First Trailer Now! Yes It's True! Jessica Biel Returns to TV