Dear TAPS Good Grief Camp Parent,
We want to begin by letting you know how sorry we are for your loss that brought you here to TAPS, but we are grateful that you are reaching out for your children. We are here to support you and your child…and to remind you that you are not alone in your grief.
At the TAPS National Good Grief Camp, children and teens between the ages of 4-19 come from across the nation to join together for a weekend of activities. Each participant has experienced the lost a loved one serving in the military. The loss can be a loved one who died while serving in Iraq or Afghanistan, in a training or motorcycle accident, suffered a heart attack, or completed suicide. Whatever the circumstance, our arms are open to you. We honor the life and the service of those they loved.
The Annual National Good Grief Camp is facilitated by volunteers who are trained in grief and how to work with children. Your child will be assigned a mentor, most who are military service members that volunteer over the long weekend to be a companion to your child, offering their time and a shoulder of support. Many of these volunteers are members of the Honor Guard at Arlington National Cemetery. Participants will be grouped by age, and within those groups, along with the military mentor, there will be a mental health/education professional leader and an experienced TAPS military mentor who will lead the group.
While our primary focus is on grief activities, we also have an incredible time – many parents have said they haven’t seen their child laugh this much in a long time. It is amazing how these children open up and encourage each other…and learn to have fun again reminding all of us that it is okay to laugh! We also tour sites in and around our nation’s capital providing evidence of how our nation honors those who have lost their lives while serving our country. One of the favorite events is eating at the "chow hall" on Ft. Meyer on Saturday and meeting the caisson horses on post.
The camp concludes Sunday afternoon, and you will then have the option of attending, as a family, the Memorial Day ceremonies at Arlington National Cemetery. A few children from the camp participate in the procession of flags during the ceremony and also in the laying of a special wreath at the Tomb of the Unknowns. This wreath is handcrafted by the children during camp.
This year, we have a new parallel program - "TAPS Honoring Heroes Camp" for those who have not lost a parent or sibling and may not need to focus on coping skills for day to day living but needs to know that they are part of a military family and learn ways we honor the sacrifice of our military. They will tour DC, play games and have a short session on being a part of a grieving family. This addition of the Honoring Heroes Camp will allow for the needs of each child or teen to be met, providing them with the best possible support and care. We are excited about this new addition to our TAPS weekend!
TAPS Good Grief Camps offer support for your children found nowhere else. They learn they are not alone and learn valuable coping skills to help them in their day to day lives. They will find a sense of belonging and a safe haven for expressing their grief with new found friends.
I encourage you to join us over Memorial Day weekend. The TAPS Seminar and Good Grief Camp will allow you, as a parent, to have time to concentrate on your personal grief journey and share with others facing similar loss, and you can be comfortable knowing your child will receive support in a safe and caring environment.
I encourage you to join us over Memorial Day weekend and hope that this will be a weekend of comfort and healing in you and your child’s journey of grief. Please do not hesitate to contact me if you have any questions or concerns. We are always here for you and your family.
TAPS National Director of Youth Programs