Central Wyoming Hospice partners with Reach 4A Star Riding Academy for youth grief camp

Updated: Jun. 20, 2022 at 6:15 PM CDT
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CASPER, Wyo. (Wyoming News Now) - Central Wyoming Hospice and Transitions (CWHT) has partnered with the Reach 4A Star Riding Academy for the 6th year to offer their annual grief counseling camp to kids who have lost loved ones. The camp lasts 3 days and includes storytelling with a representative from CWHT, arts and craft classes, and horseback riding lessons for those involved. The kids will also get to help paint a horse at the end of their time at the camp.

The camp is free for kids and their families and is available for children ages 6-16. It is meant to help kids learn to cope and express themselves after the loss of a loved one. “We’ve provided them with a variety of ways to express themselves. Grief is very hard to put into words sometimes and especially for kids depending on their developmental level. We give them a possibility to make sense of what’s happened with them,” Said Todd VonGunten, the Grief Care Coordinator with CWHT.

Although the camp is only three days students can attend for multiple years and it can leave a lasting impact on those who go. Some students even return after their time at the camps to help mentor younger kids who may have gone through the same things that they experienced. One of these teen mentors is Madelyn Cuartas who fell in love with horses and helping kids because of her experiences at the camp. “I spent a lot of time struggling with my dad’s death so my mom signed me up for this [camp] and I ended up having a really great time trying to figure out how to deal with the grief. These horses probably are the reason I’m still here. They saved my life basically and working here has really helped me emotionally,” said Madelyn.

Representatives from the Academy and the CWHT agree that the equine therapy is very beneficial to helping kids learn how to cope with loss. This is accredited to the animals sensitivity to the emotions of its rider. “Just being with animals that kind of understand your feelings is something that’s huge. Getting to learn how to care for these horses during the grief camp kind of shows you that they deal with the same emotions and the same grief we do when they lose a herd-mate,” said Madelyn.

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