At first glance, Camp Evergreen seems like a traditional summer camp, complete with the requisite lake, rustic cabins, and dozens of shrieking campers. It’s only when you notice the colorful rubber bracelets around each child’s wrist that you sense something is different here: blue bands are worn by campers who have lost a parent, yellow bands for siblings, and green for grandparents.
Camp Evergreen is the only program of its kind in northern Indiana. Here, grieving children and teens find a community among their similarly struggling peers – helping them to “feel less alone,” as one young camper put it – while also regaining a measure of the carefree, fun-loving spirit they may have lost in the midst of so much sadness.
In activities that run the gamut from kayaking and crafts, to basketball and the popular “ropes course,” campers learn coping skills that help them to manage their feelings and share stories and memories with others who understand their unique pain.
Started in 1993, Camp Evergreen serves children each summer, entirely free of charge. The cost of running the camp, however, is anything but free. In 2016, it cost Center for Hospice Care $309.06 per camper in direct costs; once the indirect costs are included, the total cost is approximately $20,000 annually. The gift of endowment would assure Camp Evergreen’s future – and have an all-but-incalculable impact on the children who find solace here.