Camp Stepping Stones 2010


In 2010 I was asked to lead a therapeutic songwriting activity at Camp Stepping Stones. This is a bereavement camp for kids who are dealing with the death of a family member. It takes place every summer at Camp Wyman in Eureka, Missouri and is run by BJC Hospice. Camp runs from dinner on Friday to lunch on Sunday and is packed full of activities. Some arts and crafts projects are specifically focused on the bereavement process: creating stepping stones, making wish sticks, building small wooden boats, and decorating a memory wall with photographs, drawings, and letters. Other activities simply offer the opportunity for kids with similar life experiences to bond: a scavenger hunt, a ropes course, a campfire, a carnival, and time at the swimming pool.

This is the information I was given – Campers ranged in age from 6 through 12 years old. There were 8 cabins with a maximum of 8 kids per cabin for a maximum total of 64 campers. My duties would consist of the following:

  1. Friday night: see 4 groups (45 minutes each) of 2 cabins per group to elicit lyrics from the kids to write a camp song
  2. Late Friday night: organize all of the campers’ lyrics and put them to music
  3. Saturday night: teach the song to the entire camp
  4. Sunday afternoon: perform the song along with the campers at a closing ceremony attended by family members
  5. Later: create a recording of the song and burn CDs to be sent to the campers

I was scared out of my mind. How do you discuss death with a child? Was it okay to be happy or funny? What if they cried? What if I cried? What if none of the children wanted to share their feelings and I had no lyrics for a song? What if I had too many lyrics and was unable to fit them all into a song? What if I let them down?

Turns out everything went great! It was such a positive experience for me and the campers! That first year, it was recommended that I get some helpers to deal with the large groups of kids. I had such a rewarding time running the therapeutic songwriting activity that I returned in 2011 and 2012 with more helpers. After that first year, I wouldn’t really call them helpers, but equals. I put my Type A personality in check and we worked as a team.

Thanks to:

Kevin Bachmann
2010, 2011, 2012 camps
(currently employed as a Music Therapist for Special School District)

Christopher Bachmann
2010, 2011, 2012 camps
(currently employed as a Music Therapist for St. Patrick’s Center)

Ashley Warmbrodt
2011, 2012 camps
(currently employed as a Music Therapist for Kids Rock Cancer)

Mike Schein
2011, 2012 camps
(currently employed as a Music Therapist for Special School District)

The next Stepping Stones camp is August 7-9, 2015.
If you know a child who would benefit from this experience click HERE!

Camp Stepping Stones 2010

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