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Volunteering at Chameleon’s Journey Grief Camp

by Sarah Little, School Counselor at South Point High School


In 2021, my husband and I attended a fundraiser for Camp Thunderbird, where a teen shared how Chameleon's Journey had positively impacted her life. This event took place at the end of Covid restrictions, and life in the school counseling world was slowly returning to normal. We noticed an increasing number of students grappling with grief-related concerns. Inspired by the event, I revisited some old brochures about Chameleon's Journey, wondering if the camp could help my current students. During that research, I discovered that Chameleon's Journey Grief Camp welcomed community volunteers.

 

Grief counseling has always been a crucial aspect of school counseling, and many students are profoundly affected by the loss of a loved one, impacting various aspects of their lives, especially at school. Knowing how important this work can be for youth, I was inspired to submit a volunteer application and embark on the process of becoming a camp counselor.

 

From the first contact with Walt Windley, Camp Director, it was evident that Chameleon's Journey was a special program. Every person involved in CJC displayed a passion for helping children and teens process and live with grief. This dedication, coupled with the support of VIA Healthcare professionals and other community members, has been the driving force behind my continued involvement as a volunteer.


Balloon Release at Chameleon's Journey Fall Overnight Grief Camp at Camp Thunderbird
Balloon Release at Chameleon's Journey Fall Overnight Grief Camp at Camp Thunderbird

Another factor that has kept me coming back is witnessing the immense joy participants experience at camp. Initially, I was hesitant about the potential emotional challenges involved in a camp designed around processing grief. While there are opportunities to explore the various emotions stemming from grief, the weekend is filled with smiles, giggles, late-night gossiping, and healthy competition. Seeing the kids bond with others who share similar life experiences is truly rewarding.  Chameleon's Journey goes beyond just addressing the challenges of grief; it fosters a sense of community, joy, and authenticity for the participants. 

 

During one of the end-of-camp reflection sessions, a camper shared that being at camp gave her the chance to discuss things that no one else in her teenage life could comprehend. It was the only time since the death of her parents that she felt she could truly be herself. Serving as a CJC counselor is a remarkable honor, and I look forward to continuing to volunteer for years to come.


 

 

 To learn more about Chameleon’s Journey Camp or VIA Health Partners, visit www.chameleonsjourney.org or www.viahp.org.


To learn more about Volunteering with VIA Health Partners, visit us at:


 

About VIA Health Partners


VIA Health Partners began as Hospice at Charlotte, the state’s first hospice, in 1978 and then operated under the name Hospice & Palliative Care Charlotte Region (HPCCR) for decades before its name change to VIA Health Partners in 2023. Today VIA Health Partners serves 3,500 patients each day for hospice and palliative care services. Our service area encompasses 14 counties in North Carolina--Burke, Catawba, Cabarrus, Caldwell, Cleveland, Gaston, Iredell, Lincoln, McDowell, Mecklenburg, Polk, Rutherford, Stanly, and Union. Its service area in South Carolina includes Abbeville, Anderson, Cherokee, Chester, Chesterfield, Fairfield, Greenville, Greenwood, Kershaw, Lancaster, Laurens, Newberry, Oconee, Pickens, Saluda, Spartanburg, Union, and York counties.

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