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Murray County Wheel-Herald

Camp Love's Embrace: A place for grieving children

Sally and Whitney
Sally Berg and Whitney Buesgens

Slayton Area Women of Today
Slayton Area Women of Today donated $750.00 to Camp Love's Embrace
(L to R) Katie Harmsen, Kari Carlson, Carla Goedke, Linda Sanow, Whitney Buesgens, Amy Ruppert, Sue Schreier, and Shelly Lewis.

By Jennifer Clark

We all have ideas, projects, or events we'd like to see occur during our lifetime, but how often do we actually act upon them?  Most of us don't get beyond the talking stages, but Whitney Buesgens, on the other hand, has taken a total action-oriented approach.

Last May, she watched Katie Couric do an interview from an east coast grief camp for children who experienced a loss on September 11.  After research, Whitney found that children from the surrounding area have to travel to Denver, Colorado, or DesMoines, Iowa to attend similar overnight grief camps.  She contacted a local grief social worker who thought the camp would be something special to offer grieving families.  That sparked Whitney's drive to start a local and independent grief camp.

Elementary Principal Sally Berg was first to join Camp Love's Embrace Board of Directors as Vice President.  Also, joining the board were Treasurer Janet Voges, family therapist Greg Wasberg, social worker Marti Engelkes, and social worker Jackie Lanoue.  "She's really the one who puts in all the leg work," said Sally of Whitney.

Whitney approached several businesses, civic groups, and churches from the region for financial support.  Though the task was challenging, she found her age to be the most inhibiting factor.  After all, how many people are willing to take a 15 year old seriously; especially when they're talking about such a demanding project?  Luckily the Board of Directors was there for support and credibility.  Over time, enough funds were obtained to ensure children would be able to attend the camp completely free of charge.

The overnight camp will make it's debut on May 3 and 4, just one year after Whitney began her worthwhile journey.  Camp Love's Embrace will be held at the Lakota Retreat Center on Lake Shetek and accepts any child, but focuses on those from Minnesota, South Dakota, and northern Iowa.  Paired with a buddy, children ages 6-14 will be able to deal with grief related to the loss of a loved one through art, music, circle time, and rituals with the guidance of skilled counselors.

Camp Love's Embrace promises to be a supportive environment for children to begin the healing process.

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