Camp Ciara for Grieving Families

The Cause

The BriarPatch Family Life Education Centre provides education, support, resources and compassion for all of life’s experiences, from birth to death. Currently, the two largest programs are our award-winning Community Preschool and the Counselling division, which provides support to anyone who is struggling with grief and loss, parenting, relationships, mental health and/or addictions.

The BriarPatch is undergoing a period of great growth as we increase our capacity and reach. With this growth, new ideas are being launched for innovation and interactive programming. We are seeking funding to create an Annual Family Grief Retreat Weekend. This retreat weekend will be known as “Ciara’s Camp” and will launch for the first time in the Summer of 2024. Ciara was born and died at birth, never having the chance to attend a Summer Camp. This retreat, in memory of this precious tiny girl will invite grieving families to participate if they are ready to explore their journey, away from the busyness of city life and daily tasks. This experience will be open to families who have experienced the death of someone they love or are waiting for someone to die. We will have three age groups attending: Children ages 4 to 12, Teens ages 13 to 18, and the Parents/Guardians. Little ones under the age of 4 will be welcome to attend as long as parents are able to care for them. Our goal for the weekend is to help all participants understand the complexities of the grief experience. Education, compassion and support will be key to this potential outcome. Providing tools and resources for their current grief experience will help with future losses in time. Our hope is to decrease any barriers including the cost for families.

The curriculum we have developed for this retreat weekend will include the use of art, music and other creative modalities to engage out participants who may not feel comfortable talking in a group setting. We will also use nature as part of our guiding principles and are excited that the potential site that we are looking at has horseback riding, a zipline and many opportunities for outdoor play. Over the weekend, the varied age ranges will be divided into their own groups, but we will also have shared experiences with all participants together. There will also be opportunities for quiet reflection for those who seek some time alone. All meals and snacks will be provided to keep everyone’s body and mind nourished.

Who Will it Benefit?

The Annual Family Grief Retreat Weekend will benefit the following age groups: Children ages 4 to 12, Teens ages 13 to 18, and Adults of all ages. Children under 4 may also attend if they are cared for by their parents. The criteria for attending will be individuals/families who have experienced the death of a loved one or are waiting for someone to die. The majority will likely come from the greater Edmonton region. Attendees from outside our region will be welcome to apply to attend but will have to cover their own travel costs to get to our region.

The community at large also benefits because as we support grieving children, teens, and adults as they navigate their grief in a healthy manner, they are likely to become more productive in community and in life. Focusing on the grief and then providing tools and resources for healing encourages mourners to refocus their energy into intentional work, benefitting the community.