Carroll Hospice
Camp T.R. – A Place For Healing
From the Fall 2014 DASH newsletter

For two decades, Carroll Hospice’s Camp T.R. has been a place for children to find comfort during their time of grief. The free weekend camp combines grief education with traditional camp activities in a supportive setting.

“The grief activities allow them to open up and share their feelings and memories, understand the importance of tears and learn healthy ways to cope with the pain,” says Jessica Roschen, Carroll Hospice bereavement counselor and camp leader. “We intersperse the grief activities with fun activities throughout the weekend. For example, the children participate in a candle-lighting ceremony with special music and share memories of their loved ones, and then after that we roast s’mores and have a dance party.”

During the weekend, campers are paired with an adult buddy, a specially-trained volunteer in whom they can confide. They are encouraged to share their thoughts and memories of their loved ones, learn positive ways to show their grief—and understand that it is OK to grieve. “Children realize they are not alone in their grief,” Roschen says. “They can relate to each other, learn ways to express their feelings and learn coping skills.” Camp T.R. started in 1994 by the family of 11-year-old Thomas Richard (T.R.) O’Farrell III, who was killed in an accident. The camp was established to honor T.R.’s caring, adventurous spirit and to help others, as T.R. had hoped to do when he was older. Through the help of volunteers donating their time and energy, Camp T.R. is free to participants.

Twenty years later, more than 500 campers ages 7 to 15 have been helped by the camp, held at Hashawha Environmental Center in Westminster each June. At this year’s Taste of Carroll, former campers Grace and Landon Bruce described how their experiences at Camp T.R. helped them cope with the 2011 death of their brother Jon from melanoma.

“Jon was the best big brother ever, and he still is,” Grace told those in attendance. “He was an amazing person, and I’m sure you would like him very much.”

“It really helped me get out the sadness,” Landon said of Camp T.R. “They told me it was OK to be sad...people knew what you were going through because they had experienced it.”

At right: The Bruce Family at the 2014 Taste of Carroll: Shawna, Grace, Landon and Barry. 

View the entire Fall 2014 DASH newsletter here.