Volunteer Spirit: Free camp for kids dealing with the loss of a loved one

TOWNSEND, Tenn (WVLT) -- For 19 years now, Katerpillar Kids Camp has been helping kids deal with death.

The counselors are average people, some who have been to camp, others who just want to show volunteer spirit and love kids.

That includes Kristin Peddicord.

She is a wedding photographer, but she won't be shooting brides and grooms on September 8th or 9th.

Instead, she will be volunteering her time and skills as a counselor at the camp in Townsend.

She has done so for many years.

It's a 2 day (one weekend) bereavement camp for kids in grades 1-12.

Kids who have lost a sibling, parent, grandparent, someone a year ago or so.

Katie McLaughlin, the camp director says, says, "It combines fun and therapy. Kids can do ziplines, there's canoeing, there's a waterfall to hike to. We also have equine therapy and HABIT dogs too."

The high schoolers spend the night.

Katie says, "For a lot of kids, I think this is the first time they have ever talked about their situation. It brings them all together. Kids who have lost a parent, sibling, grandparent. They see they're not alone. They can see that others are going through what they have gone through."

Kristin knows it helps heal.

She was a camper there years ago.

Her father died from cancer when she was ten.

Kristin says, "When you lose someone so close to you, especially at such a young age, nobody gets what you're going through. And no one wants to talk to you about it, they don't want to hurt your feelings. They don't want to upset you."

Aside from campers, they're also looking for counselors, counselors with volunteer spirit.

"People like Kristin who have gone through the camp and want to help out again, or they know of a family going through this and they want to support children as well, according to Katie.

Kristin has volunteered several years, ever since learning life lessons as a camper .

She says, "I think it's changed me, it's prepared me for the future. If you can learn how to deal with losing a parent parent, you can deal with all other trials."

Katerpillar Kids Camp is free!

It's at Wesley Woods in Townsend the weekend of September 8 and 9th.

The camp buses the kids from West Knoxville to the camp site.

Applications are being accepted right now for campers as well as counselors.

Grab the link below or call: 865-374-0864

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