BECOME A GOOD GRIEF CAMP MENTOR
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. In addition, beginning in 2009, each year we have brought together children of all ages from around the U.S. whose loved one died by suicide while serving our country. 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 and are paired with military mentors who understand the military and can companion them throughout this special weekend. These children and 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 themselves, 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 by suicide in the military. These surviving kids 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.
The weekend will consist of a mandatory three-hour training either Thursday evening or Friday afternoon, see times below. Saturday and Sunday will be full days spent with the children and teens. The Seminar and Good Grief Camp and training will take place at the TradeWinds Resort in St. Pete Beach, Florida.
View a list of expectations when you serve as a Good Grief Camp mentor. Below you will see additional requirements.
COST: There is no cost for Mentors as all meals will be provided during training and from lunch on 10/1 through dinner on 10/2.
LODGING: In an effort to ease the financial burden of mentors from out-of-town, we are pleased to announce that there will be limited lodging available to those who need assistance AND who live more than an hour away. These rooms will be reserved on a first-come, first-reserved basis. If demand is high, there may be up to four people per room, meaning you would have to share a bed. Please note that these rooms are gender specific and we cannot accommodate couples in the same room. Also, since our room block often fills up with families, these rooms may be reserved at a near-by property. Please let us know when you register if you require lodging during training or the Good Grief Camp.
UNIFORM: Dress is casual for the Seminar and Good Grief Camp including shorts, jeans, sandals, tennis shoes, etc. Each Mentor will receive TAPS t-shirts to be worn for all activities.
Additional Information for Good Grief Camp Mentors. You must be able to:
- Attend mandatory training either on Thursday from 1800-2100 or on Friday from 1200-1500.
- Attend entire Good Grief Camp on Saturday (0730-2230) and Sunday(0730-1930).
- Be available the entire weekend as a mentor for this special group.
Please call TAPS at 202-588-TAPS (8277) or email firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions or for assistance with a letter requesting time off through your chain of command.
Your help will be greatly appreciated by the resilient and courageous children with whom you are paired and by the entire TAPS Family.
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."
- Maj. 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."
- Staff Sgt. 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."
- Maj. 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