Camp Magic is Australia’s largest and leading grief education and support program for bereaved children and teenagers between the ages of 7-17. Since its inception in 2015, it has supported hundreds of campers who are grieving the loss of a parent, sibling or legal guardian. Campers attend a transformational weekend-long program free of charge that combines fun, physical challenges with grief education and emotional support.
The aim of Camp Magic is to eliminate the isolation that grief often presents by bringing bereaved children together to meet others who are in a similar situation. It provides a unique opportunity for campers to create lifelong friends, hear other’s stories and if they choose to, share their own. Everyone at Camp Magic has experienced loss and can relate on a level that few others can. Camp Magic strives to increase awareness and provide resources and support for grieving children. Campers learn that hope can be restored and they once again can imagine a life full of possibilities, knowing they are not alone.
Camp Magic is held over a three-day weekend during the NSW school holidays. Currently there are four camps held each year in the months of April, July, October and December. It is supported and staffed by trained volunteers.
Camp Magic also provides an experience of shared value to members of the community and corporations via its volunteer mentoring program. Every volunteer mentor has been screened and holds a current Working With Children Check and National Criminal History Check. They have attended specialised mentor training provided by Feel the Magic to support them in their role as a mentor throughout Camp Magic.
Each child and teenager that attends Camp Magic will be specifically matched with a volunteer mentor to support their individual strengths and needs. This volunteer mentor will be by the camper’s side throughout the camp, supporting and encouraging every step of the way.
The volunteer mentor experience is an incredibly rewarding and fulfilling one. Each mentor makes a meaningful difference in the life of a grieving child through the support they provide at camp. By giving their time and companionship in this way, mentors benefit through their own personal growth and experience an opportunity to foster a sense of connection to the greater community.
An essential component of Camp Magic is its psychoeducational curriculum of activities and practices called Talk Time. This program is designed to teach children about the grief that they are experiencing and strategies for how they can begin to heal after the death of a loved one. Campers meet in small age-based groups and are led by mental health and educational professionals who interact with and support the campers all weekend.
Through these opportunities to freely express thoughts and feelings, campers can develop healthy coping skills that enhance their lives. Campers will return home having a better understanding of their own grief. They will be equipped with the tools to cope in a more positive way and know how to implement them in their day-to-day lives. They develop a greater sense of confidence, resilience and a sense of fulfilment that comes from belonging to a like-minded community that understands.
At Camp Magic, campers get a chance to share their personal story of loss in their own words, and to hear other stories as well. Whether openly discussing their loss over a Talk Time activity or sharing a fond memory of their loved ones, campers come to realise that they are surrounded by empathetic peers and adults who understand their struggle and want to help. They support each other and quickly learn that they are not alone.
The grief journey is an ongoing one. As campers work through the activities of the Talk Time program, they are given opportunities to learn age appropriate skills that will help them manage their grief in their daily life. They discuss and model healthy coping strategies, including ways to stay connected to and honour the memories of their loved ones. Campers return home empowered with a greater awareness of their own resilience.
A highlight of the Camp Magic experience are the self-esteem and confidence building activities. Whether zipping down a flying fox or strategising to complete a team challenge, campers are encouraged to work together. It is through this interaction that campers realise that they’re a valuable member of the group and just how capable they are. This inspires the knowledge that even though the grief they are experiencing may be difficult, they will emerge a stronger and more capable person who is able to grow and adapt to overcome any obstacle.
Camp Magic creates a strong, supportive network of peers that personally understands grief. Within the camp environment, children share stories of their loved ones, eat meals, play games and overcome challenges together. Campers share these experiences with others who are facing the very same struggles that they are. They begin to realise that they are not alone in their grief and form new bonds of friendship and community spirit. As they connect with each other, they discover that there is no limit to what can be overcome by working together.