KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — Covenant Health is working to help children handle grief after someone close to them dies.

Covenant HomeCare and Hospice partnered with Mane Support to hold Katerpillar Kids Camp, a free camp for children who are grieving the loss of a loved one. The camp will take place on Sept. 23-24 at Mane Support’s Roane County location in Rockwood.

“It’s very important because many children don’t know other children who have lost somebody. In society, death is something that’s difficult to talk about for adults, let alone for children. So camp provides a way for these children to meet someone else to know that they’re not alone and helps them to begin to learn coping skills,” said Cindy Winterberger, community and facility program supervisor for Covenant HomeCare and Hospice.

Covenant has been organizing Katerpillar Kids Camps for more than 25 years. At camp, trained volunteers lead the children through a variety of activities including games, art, equine-assisted counseling, and recreation.

The camp provides opportunities for children to express their feelings and talk about their experiences. The goal is to give children a safe place to learn how to cope with grief.

For example, Winterberger said that while brushing horses, children can engage in conversations with certified grief counselors about who they can talk to at home when they need help and who keeps them safe.

“Most often, when the children come to camp, they’re nervous. They know why they’re coming to camp. And it’s just scary. It’s scary for them and their families, and most often by the end of the day they do not want to leave. It’s the first time they’ve really had this open opportunity to share and really express their grief and feel heard and meeting other kids that are going through it is so important for them,” said Winterberger.

Losing someone close to you can be a life-changing experience, especially for children. According to Winterberger, the camp helps children understand that they are not alone and provides them with the tools to cope with their loss.

“When somebody is grieving the loss of someone they know your life changes, your daily life changes, and for most of the children coming to camp, many of them have lost a parent, a sibling or grandparent, one of their friends. It’s the first time they’ve experienced this level of loss, this level of a loss of trust, trust in the world, and daily life as they know it. So it is so important that they know they are not alone, that they can hear and learn from others about that they’re going to make it through,” said Winterberger.

The camp is open to children in grades 1 through 12 who have experienced the death of someone they know. Registration is required for those who want to attend. Click here to learn more and register.