KINGSPORT, Tenn. (WJHL) — Ballad Health will hold an event this weekend dedicated to helping grieving children and the deadline to register is approaching fast.

The Camp Firefly event will take place Saturday, Sept. 24 from 9 a.m.–4 p.m. at Warriors’ Path State Park in Kingsport. The camp is free and open to children 4–17 years old who have lost someone since the health system’s last Camp Firefly event in 2019.

“If someone’s old enough to love, they’re old enough to grieve,” Sarah Hale, volunteer and bereavement coordinator for Ballad Health Hospice, said in a release. “At Camp Firefly, we try to provide a variety of interventions, so each child can find something that helps them heal.

“We have one-on-one and group sessions; we have quiet times that allow for reflection and busy times with vigorous activities. But everything we do has the intention of helping kids cope with their grief.”

Campers will gather in age-divided groups to discuss their feelings of grief but also celebrate their loved ones through activities and learning coping skills. Lunch will be provided with time for families to reconnect and relax, according to Ballad.

The event will conclude with a memorial ceremony including a lighted lantern release.

The health system says the event will provide a safe, fun, and caring environment where participants and their families explore their feelings by:

  • Developing an age-appropriate understanding of death
  • Forming relationships with peers who have experienced similar losses
  • Improving self-esteem
  • Reducing feelings of isolation
  • Strengthening coping skills

According to Ballad, trained volunteers will serve as camp buddies and accompany children through activities led by social workers, counselors, and nurses.

Parents and guardians are encouraged to attend Camp Firefly with their children. There will be separate sessions to help adults support grieving children and cope with their own grief.

Campers will receive a bandana, backpack, grief literature, and get to keep the projects they create during the camp.

Those interested in attending should register by Friday, Sept. 23 by calling Ballad Health Hospice at 423-431-6146 or by visiting Ballad Health’s website.