Camp Foster hosts Okoboji students
A special group of Okoboji students gathered together on March 22 at Camp Foster YMCA for a bereavement program. The Okoboji Community Schools success team and Champion State of Mind counselors worked together to design and lead the free grief program for youth impacted by the loss of a significant person in their lives.
''As many know several students at Okoboji have experienced the death of a parent in the past year and when we started discussing the idea of this group we realized that we have around two dozen students in the district who have experienced this loss," Justin Bouse, the Okoboji Schools Student Services and Activities Director, said. "We wanted to create this group for the students to give them an opportunity to be around others who truly understand their pain. We hope to make this a regular occurrence for the students so they can get back together to provide that support for one another. Annie and Amy did a wonderful job and I was so impressed with our counselors and success coaches. I think everyone benefited from this day."
Because youth naturally process grief through creative and recreational programs, the event included some fun opening games and ended with a painting session at Creative Spirits in Spirit Lake.
"A few fun experiences really bonded the group so they became more comfortable sharing about their loss," OES Success Coach Teresa Goehring said. "Since the participants are grades 3-12, there were some really great mentoring opportunities but most importantly, they now know that they are not alone."
Okoboji Schools will continue to offer more supportive programs throughout the year because no matter when the loss occurred, processing it can be powerful. The next event is planned for the summer.
"When an individual loses a significant person in their life, they internally grieve the loss but often times struggle to mourn, which is the outward expression of grief," Annie Downing of Champion State of Mind said. "This program is extremely impactful as it allows these students to mourn their loved one, which is a significant part of the healing journey following loss. It was an honor to witness this special group of students and staff in the Okoboji School District."
Okoboji senior Kaitlyn Meylor called the program an amazing experience for anyone who has lost a loved one.
"We learned a lot about the difference between grief and mourning and the importance of letting out your emotions" she said. "It was also nice to connect with other kids as well."
A special thank you was extended to Okoboji's partners: Champion State of Mind, Camp Foster YMCA and Pizza Ranch. The program was made possible due to an anonymous gift from a local family to the Success Program at Okoboji Schools.