Registration is Open for Sept. 25-26 Day Camp Sessions

When someone we love passes on from this world, it’s easy to become over- whelmed with grief, which can also include waves of anger, fear, anxiety, depression and many questions – especially for children and youth. Katerpillar Kids Camp is a free two-day camp coordinated by Covenant Hospice and sponsored by Variety Children’s Charity. The camp provides a safe place for students in grades 1 through 12 to express their feelings and learn healthy ways to cope with grief.

A past group of campers.
Katerpillar Kids Camp participants, leaders and volunteers at a previous year’s camp session. The September 2021 camp will be at Mane Support in Rockwood, Tennessee.

Having Fun, Making Friends, and Learning Coping Skills

Katerpillar Kids Camp includes counselor-led activities such as arts and crafts, music and games. This year, Covenant Hospice is partnering with Mane Support of Roane County, a nonprofit organization that provides a ministry of equine-assisted grief counseling to children, youth, teens and adults who have experienced the death of a loved one or other types of trauma. (All horse-related activities are ground-based; there is no riding involved.) Transportation to the day-camp sessions at Mane Support will be provided from Knoxville at no cost to participants.

From Camper to Nurse to Volunteer

Kallee Harvey, RN, in front of Parkwest Medical Center
Parkwest Medical Center nurse Kallee Harvey, RN, BSN, attended Katerpillar Kids Camp as a child and has been a camp volunteer for eight years.

Kallee Harvey, RN, BSN, is a nurse at Parkwest Medical Center. In her professional role, she provides pre-and post-operative care for orthopedic and joint replacement patients. As a child, Harvey experienced the loss of three close relatives in less than five years. Her mother, also a nurse, was familiar with Covenant  HomeCare and Hospice and knew about Katerpillar Kids Camp. “It was a lot of changes for a little kid in a short amount of time,” Harvey recalls. “Now, having had that experience as a camper, I get to go back and volunteer, and serve kids.”

A camp volunteer for eight years, Harvey explains, “I think kids get left out when families talk about grief, maybe because many adults don’t know how to put it in kid-language. I
think kids are smarter than we think they are, so to be able to gain knowledge, confidence and awareness of feelings is huge. “As a camper, I felt good having those two days at camp with people who were my age. Even though it was not said aloud, we knew what other campers were feeling. So it was nice to have moments where we didn’t have to talk about what was happening in our lives, but rather just be there for each other.”

Past quilt made by campers.
Each year campers make quilt squares in memory of their loved ones.

She compared the unexpected death of a family member to the uncertainties of the COVID-19 pandemic. Harvey says it has been a difficult year to be a front- line worker. “There are not really words to describe how emotionally and physically hard it has been. You can’t really leave work at work; it follows you home. And then seeing people who were healthy become sick with the virus – it’s hard.“It’s important to learn the skills of how to cope,” she says. “I’ve seen how the isolation and loneliness have changed people’s worlds, even as adults. So when a child has loss or trauma,they don’t always know what to do with these feelings.”

Making a Difference

Horse at Mane Support.
Mane Support is partnering with Covenant Hospice to provide unique equine-assisted therapy to Katerpillar Kids

Volunteering as a camp counselor has been extremely rewarding for Harvey. “I used to tell my mom I wanted to change the world. I think the reason I became a nurse was so that at least I could try and change one person’s world and make a difference to them,” she shares. “Katerpillar Kids Camp is such an amazing experience, and I want families going through loss to know there are resources available to them.”

Katerpillar Kids Registration Open for Campers and Volunteers

For more than 25 years, Katerpillar Kids Camp has provided a safe place for campers to learn healthy ways to cope with grief. Registration is open for both campers and volunteers. Sign up today!

Who: Camp is offered to youth (grades 1-12) and families who have experienced the loss of a loved one. Campers participate in a variety of fun activities, including games, crafts, music and equine-assisted therapy while sharing experiences with others who have had similar losses.

Where: Mane Support Roane County, 1522 New Hope Rd, Rockwood, TN 37854 (Transportation available from Knoxville each day at no charge.)

When: Saturday, Sept. 25, 8:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m. and Sunday, Sept. 26, 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m.

To Register: There is no cost to attend, but online advance registration is required: or call (865) 374-0864.

Past campers with a HABIT dog.
Dogs from the HABIT program (Human-Animal Bond in Tennessee) are frequent visitors to Katerpillar Kids Camp.