Become a Good Grief Camp Mentor

DEADLINE TO REGISTER: May 15

TAPS was established in 1994 and has been supporting anyone who has lost a loved one in the military regardless of the geography or circumstance of the death. We honor the life and service of those they loved. These children are all part of the living legacy of military service.

Children and teens come together from all over the nation and are paired with military mentors who understand the military and can companion these kids/teens throughout this special weekend. These children/teens learn how we, as a nation, honor those who have served and sacrificed, and they also learn coping skills for handling their own grief. They meet other children their own age, and gain a peer support network they can lean on throughout the year. The children, with their mentors, will go through grief work within their group, and learn – through experiences within the group and their mentor's guidance - that the military supports them and honors their loved one. Here they learn that they are not alone and this is a safe place to talk and just be… and be wherever they are in their grief.

The TAPS Good Grief Camp gives youngsters a solid foundation on which to build a healthy future following a tragic loss of a loved one in the military. These surviving youth learn coping skills and will learn the feelings they are experiencing are normal reactions to an abnormal event - the untimely death of a parent or loved one.

If you register as a mentor, you would need to be available for the entire weekend during the dates and times of the Good Grief Camp listed below. If you can not make a full commitment, please consider registering as a Volunteer instead at TAPS Volunteer Central.

MANDATORY TRAINING:
25 May 1800-2100 OR 26 May 1300-1600

TAPS GOOD GRIEF CAMP DATES AND TIMES:

Memorial Day Weekend

27 May 0730 - 1730 
28 May 0800 - 2200
29 May 0830 - 1730
30 May (optional) Arlington Cemetery Ceremony in Dress Uniform

All events, including training, will take place (or depart from) the 
Marriott Crystal Gateway, 1700 Jefferson Davis Highway, Arlington, VA 22202.
Free parking is available for GGC Mentors, please review the GGC Mentor Parking Information for details.

Please visit our Good Grief Camp Mentor Volunteer page to find other opportunities available to serve as a Good Grief Camp Mentor. For more information, please email mentors@taps.org.

View a list of expectations when you serve as a Good Grief Camp Mentor below.

Suggested but not mandatory training can be found online at the TAPS Online Training website.

Thank you again for your service to this great nation!

Please feel free to call or email us for more information at mentors@taps.org or 800-959-8277.

TAPS National Good Grief Camp Mentors

 

Good Grief Camp Mentor Requirements 

  • Register on our TAPS website by May 15. 
  • Be presently serving in the military (active/guard/reserve status) or recently retired from the military.
  • Attend ALL scheduled events and functions on time or early!
  • Attend one training session either on May 25 from 1800-2100 or May 26 1300-1600.
  • Attend entire weekend, in addition to training approximate times of camp include May 27 0730-1730, May 28 0800-2200, May 29 0830-1730, Monday is optional to attend Arlington ceremonies with mentee in dress uniform.
  • Use good judgment when assessing safety for children.
  • DO NOT Fraternize with fellow mentors, mentees, TAPS staff, or adult survivors during the TAPS weekend. A mentor’s focus should be on their mentee and his/her well-being.
  • Set & enforce good boundaries with your mentee.
  • Identify your mentee’s allergies and/or special needs from the intake form.
  • Intervene when necessary and keep group leaders informed if there are concerns.
  • Honor time constraints.
  • Create a safe place and an environment of trust and acceptance for your mentee.
  • Follow directions from group leaders and TAPS staff.
  • Do not partake in alcohol during the GGC nor let it affect your role as a mentor the next day.
  • Demonstrate good moral and responsible conduct around children/teens of all ages (ex. No profanity, no "drinking" stories, no inappropriate comments).
  • Willing to be a "big brother" or "big sister" to a child who has lost a loved one in the military.
  • Be "present" and "companion" a child/children while cognizant of own grief and loss issues of a military friend or family member.
  • Understand that you may need a break, and it is ok. Understand that the group leaders and TAPS staff are here if you need/want to talk and it will be confidential.
  • Show empathy towards children and surviving family as they are grieving.
  • Willingness to continue the mentor role throughout the rest of the year for the child’s birthday, special events, or holidays.
  • Withhold any personal political views as this may complicate the grieving process for children. No antiwar comments will be tolerated. 
    Alert group leader if there are ANY reasons to be concerned about mentee (i.e. talk of suicide).
  • Complete and pass security background check.

 

Good Grief Camp Mentor Testimonials

"The Good Grief Camp really brings into focus the sacrifices that have been made for our Nation; these kids are incredible and I am blessed to have the opportunity to get to know them."

-Major Steve Harrold USAF, began mentoring in 2007

"I thought it was going to be a one time, weekend thing! That weekend, come to find out, completely changed my life forever!! Since that first weekend I have become involved in the lives of hundreds of spouses and children across the country. I look forward to any and all events that TAPS is a part of. Being a mentor is the most gratifying, and peaceful part of my life. I count the days until I can see all of my friends in the TAPS family again. In the end that is what we all are to each other, just an extended version of our own families."

-SSG Shawn Callan, US Army, began mentoring in 2005

"TAPS has allowed me to get to know and mentor the children of a friend lost after an Iraq deployment. Spending Memorial Day in D.C. with them and bunch of other great kids has been very fun and sometimes hilarious. I think it is good for everyone involved and I look forward to this weekend all year."

-Major Matt Sterni USMC, began mentoring in 2007

"Having the chance to be with a teen survivor, who shares what it has been like for them since they lost their loved one, has been one of the most rewarding and humbling experiences of my life. It is an honor to spend time with the young survivors, some of the bravest individuals I've ever met."

-Chad Weikel, US Army, a surviving sibling who began mentoring in 2006