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Camp Brave Heart

 

Children who are grieving can experience a sense of isolation as they struggle with deep and complicated feelings. Often, these children know no one else who has suffered a similar loss.

Camp Brave Heart is a free bereavement camp for children and teens ages 6 – 17 who are grieving the death of someone they love. It is a traditional, fun, high-energy camp combined with grief education, peer bonding, and emotional support led by grief support professionals and trained volunteers.

Swimming, hiking, campfires, canoeing, sing-a-longs, crafts and a high- and low-level ropes course are just a few of the activities that campers enjoy. Over the course of three days and two nights packed with recreational and therapeutic activities, campers hear each other’s stories, explore their grief in a safe and understanding environment, and learn ways to help them cope with their loss.

 

The free, 3-day/2-night camp is held every summer at John Knox Ranch outside Wimberley in the heart of the beautiful Texas Hill Country. Bus transportation to and from the camp is provided from a location near Hospice Austin’s main office in northwest Austin.

Campers are accepted after determining that the child is emotionally ready and able to participate and benefit from the camp. Children who have never attended Camp Brave Heart (or 2018’s Camp Erin Central Texas) will be given priority to attend camp (unless they have experienced the death of another person who is important to them after they attended camp). If the child or teen has attended in a previous year and they have not experienced another death, they will be placed on a waitlist. Any remaining camper spots will be offered to return campers on July 15th. Available space will be dependent on which age group(s) have room for additional campers. Please apply as soon as possible if you have a return camper to get his or her name on the waitlist.

Camp Brave Heart 2019 will be held Monday, Aug. 5th – Wednesday, Aug. 7th. Applications for Camp Brave Heart are available here in English and Spanish on April 8th. Please contact Bereavement Supervisor Maggie Cochran at 512-342-4784 if you need assistance completing all or part of the application. Se habla español.

Camp Brave Heart is provided to families free of charge in large part to the financial support of University Christian Church and other generous donors. Last year, we partnered with a national network of bereavement camps and, as part of that collaboration, changed the camp’s name to Camp Erin Central Texas. The Hospice Austin Executive Committee recently voted to return Camp Erin Central Texas back to Camp Brave Heart. The foundation supporting Camp Erin has undergone some unexpected changes and grant-funding loss, so we all felt that it was better to restore Camp Brave Heart’s name and independent status. However, we adopted some new best practices from Camp Erin and enjoyed the opportunity to collaborate with bereavement camps around the country. We wish everyone from the Camp Erin organization well.


Camp Erin Central Texas 2018
To see pictures from the 2018 camp, please click here.

KXAN and CBS Austin both came out and did wonderful stories on camp:

KXAN news story

CBS Austin news story


 

Camp Brave Heart 2017

To see pictures from 2017’s camp, please click here.

KVUE and Spectrum News did terrific stories on the camp:

KVUE news story

Spectrum news story

 

A Letter from a Camper Camp Brave Heart Campers Anastasia, Emma and Madison

I went to Camp Brave Heart honestly thinking it wouldn’t help. Then I got to camp. It was ok to cry, ask questions, tell people how you really felt. We did things that helped me understand what I was feeling. And there was nothing awkward when you said “My _____ passed,” because we all understood the feeling well enough in order to not make someone else feel it. At Camp Brave Heart, I also made lifetime bonds with four friends who also lost their dads. We meet up on holidays, birthdays, any day we can really, and my little brother does the same with his friends he made at camp. Thank you for letting me tell you how Camp Brave Heart has helped me even now when I’m 14.

Have a nice day,
Madison

Madison attended camp when she was 12 and wrote this letter at 14. She is now 20 years old and has volunteered at Camp Brave Heart for the past two summers to help other children cope with losing someone they love.