Camp Ray of Hope, an annual weekend retreat for grieving families, is moving to Friends Camp in South China this fall to help organizers attract more local volunteers.

The weekend event, run by the Hospice Volunteers of the Waterville Area, offers families different ways to deal with grief and a chance to meet others facing the same problems.

Volunteers are vital to the camp and without their help, attendance would become prohibitively expensive, hospice executive director Susan Roy said.

“We don’t receive state or federal funding. We rely on grants and donations to help us fund this camp,” Roy said.

Volunteers are needed for activities including peer counseling sessions and leading camper photography, pottery and music workshops.

“We run a course that trains our volunteers on how to become facilitators,” Roy said. “We want to make sure that we have a lot of volunteers that are well qualified to do the work.”

The Waterville hospice is a nonprofit group that provides nonmedical support to people at the end of their lives.

Some former campers have become volunteers themselves.

“I had processed my grief and I really wanted to give back and help other families,” Sonya Houle, 35, of Vassalboro, said. “As far as being a camper, our experience was amazing. They have excellent activities for the children and adults to remember a lost loved one or to process their grief.”

The camp, founded in 1995, previously met at Camp Mecuwana in Wintrhop. In addition to its closeness to the hospice office in Waterville, the camp in South China offers other benefits.

“One of the things we like about Friends Camp is that they have a lot of places that will be able to hold our workshops,” Roy said. “We are trying to concentrate the number of workshops but make sure that they have a lot of substance and a healing component to them.”

nugget: Camp Ray of Hope is September 14-16 and costs $60 per person or $180 for a family of three or more. For information, go to www.hvwa.org or 873-3615.

More about Hospice Volunteers of the Waterville Area and Camp Ray of Hope at www.hvwa.org.

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