TAPS Good Grief Camp
There's no place quite like the Good Grief Camp at the National Military Survivor Seminar. As you pass children walking hand in hand with their military mentor, witness the country's highest ranking military officer singing and dancing with young survivors, dodge foam footballs in the hallways and see the bonds forged by shared circumstance, you'll understand again why we consider ourselves a family.
At TAPS Good Grief Camp, we do what family does. We play, talk, laugh, cry, create traditions and honor the people who bring us together. We do the work of grief against a backdrop of constant support. We listen, process, consider and remember. We name emotions. We have adventures.
It may be that a child or teen in your home is new to grief and loss, or it may be that your Good Grief Camper has never known life any other way. Wherever your child or teen is in the grief journey, he or she will share the experiences of Good Grief Camp with others who can relate.
These peer connections form the basis for lifelong friendships (and epic Jenga tournaments). They are built around shared understanding of losses, changes and the challenges of grieving and growing up. At the same time, our one-on-one mentor program pairs a trained service member or veteran with each attendee — ensuring that, in addition to the inevitable camaraderie, there's always a sense of individual, dedicated support.
Good Grief Camp provides a safe space to share emotions, find support and learn coping skills. While we craft stress balls, go on field trips and participate in special events, we'll learn to tell the stories of our heroes, our families and ourselves.
Our Letter to Parents
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 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 in combat, in an accident, because of illness or from suicide. Whatever the circumstance, our arms are open to you. We honor the life and the service of those they loved.
The Good Grief Camp is facilitated by volunteers who are trained in grief and how to work with children. Your child will be assigned a trained mentor, either a service member or veteran, who has volunteered to be a companion to your child, offering their time and support. 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 full of fun and laughter — 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 OK to laugh! We also tour sites around our nation's capital that provide 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 Fort Myer 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.
TAPS Good Grief Camps offer support for your children found nowhere else. They learn they are not alone and gain 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 newfound friends.
We 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.
Please do not hesitate to contact us if you have any questions or concerns. We are always here for you and your family.
TAPS Youth Programs Staff