Fun, learning and healing at Camp Lloyd

From the outside, Camp Lloyd looks like any other summer camp. But all of the campers here share one thing in common: They all are dealing with the death of a loved one.

"It's a lot of fun and it helps you cope with what happened and you just do a lot of fun stuff," said 13-year-old Jenna Perock. This is her third year at Camp Lloyd. She lost her father to cancer a few years ago. This year, her grandmother died.

"We have healing circles where you talk about what happened," Perock said. "It's nice to talk to other people who have gone through what you've gone through."

Nine-year-old Tehya Weaver came to Camp Lloyd because she lost her father in a car accident.

"It's really fun because of all the crafts and stuff we do," Weaver said about the camp.

UW-Green Bay Human Development Prof. Illene Noppe started Camp Lloyd five years ago.

"It is okay to still be a kid, to have fun and to enjoy their lives even in the context of such a devastating loss," Noppe said.

The camp is named after Noppe's husband, fellow UW-Green Bay Professor Lloyd Noppe. He was a child when his father died. Now Lloyd volunteers at the camp to help other children who have lost loved ones.

"We want them to realize that they're not alone and that there are other kids that are going through the same experience because frequently these kids feel very isolated," Illene Noppe said.

Camp Lloyd is not just helping the kids. It's also helping some UW-Green Bay students gain real-world experience in their future careers.

"It's definitely very fulfilling. It's one of the best things I've ever done," said UW-Green Bay senior Amanda Brodhagen. She is majoring in Human Development and is the head counselor at Camp Lloyd.

"It has really shaped how I feel about therapy in general. How I feel about group therapy. I've never seen group therapy before. After seeing it I really think that it's valuable and it helps," Brodhagen said. "I think that's why I really want to be a grief therapist eventually."

"They teach us more than we teach them I think," added Kiri Thompson who graduated from UW-Green Bay in 2009. She came back to help at Camp Lloyd and is pursuing a master's degree because of her experience at the camp.

"Camp Lloyd has really helped me figure out that I do want to be a grief therapist as one of my goals. So that is what I'm going to school for," Thompson said.

On the final day of Camp Lloyd, UW-Green Bay Chancellor Thomas Harden stopped by to show his support for the program.

While the camp only lasts one week, part of it will live on. Campers helped plant a tree on the grounds of the Ecumenical Center located near campus. At the base of tree, campers signed a rock in memory of their loved ones who are gone but not forgotten.