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Teen says Wake Forest bereavement camp 'taught me how to smile' after father's death

Three members of a Wake Forest family were gunned down in their home, leaving behind a grandfather to raise two grandchildren. Those children were able to get help at a free camp for kids who are dealing with grief.

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By
Kasey Cunningham
, WRAL reporter
WAKE FOREST, N.C.Three members of a Wake Forest family were gunned down in their home, leaving behind a grandfather to raise two grandchildren. Those children were able to get help at a free camp for kids who are dealing with grief.

At just six years old, Indy Hovie lost her father when he died suddenly of cardiac arrest.

“My mom got a phone call and she went and locked herself in the bathroom,” Hovie said. “She came out and she said, “I’m so sorry, your dad is gone.”

In the state of North Carolina, approximately 60,000 children will lose a parent or sibling, but Camp Comfort Zone offers resources for kids dealing with such a devastating loss.

“It’s more learning to be OK than learning about your loss,” Hovie said.

Hovie, now 17, has been to Camp Comfort Zone in Wake Forest every year since her father’s death.

“I owe almost everything to Camp Comfort Zone. It taught me how to smile and everything like that,” she said.

The camp offers group therapy, ways to cope and a chance to meet other kids going through the same difficult situations. It’s main focus, however, is providing a space for kids to be kids.

“It does a really good job of not being a death camp and teaching to still be a kid, and it’s really hard when you lose a parent because it’s all you focus on sometimes because all the other kids have two parents and are normal,” Hovie said.

Each camper is paired with a buddy, and volunteer Lydia Ross said she has seen the transformation first-hand.

“The kids that walk into camp Friday are not the kids that walk out Sunday,” she said. “It’s just changed me, really as much as it’s changed the campers, even more maybe.”

Hovie said she plans to return to the camp as a “Big Buddy” to help other campers who have experienced loss.

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