Camp Kerry is the only family-centred bereavement program in BC with a provincial reach. Music therapy services at Camp Kerry are provided by a team of accredited music therapists who are experienced in hospice/palliative and bereavement care. Through the music therapy programs of Camp Kerry participants are given the opportunity to access both verbal and non-verbal modalities to help them express the wide range of intense emotions that grieving brings. They are very proud to have the largest team of music therapists working together in the province of BC! Ever since Camp Kerry was first established in 2007, music therapy has been an integral part of grief support services and programs. They have now facilitated over 24 sessions of their signature program “Camp Kerry” (a four-day family bereavement retreat) and music therapy has been a core part of every single retreat.
In the past year music therapy has specifically been implemented in the following Camp Kerry
1. Camp Kerry Counselling Services (in-person and online)
2. Synergy: Camp Kerry Community Choirs (in-person and online)
3. Circles of Strength: Child/Youth/Family Grief Support Groups (in-person)
4. Music Therapy Workshops (in-person and on-line)
5. Kaleidoscope 2020: A Virtual Grief Convention for Families and Professionals
The organization provides support, education and counselling services (many of which are delivered through music therapy and other expressive arts therapy modalities) for children, youth and adults who are coping with serious illness, loss and grief. They are currently providing services for approximately 300-400 children, youth, adults and families who come from urban, rural and remote communities all over British Columbia. Clients range from 1 to 80 years of age.
How does Music Therapy uniquely address the needs of clients at Camp Kerry?
Through music therapy in both individual and group settings, participants are able to access emotional support and build new coping strategies that assist them to navigate their grieving process in healthy ways. Participants regularly describe an enhanced sense of overall coping and personal well-being, as well as an improved sense of connection and communication within their family. They also consistently report a decreased sense of isolation in their grief and a stronger sense of community and belonging. Music making, toe-tapping, community-connecting musical programs and encounters build friendships, relieve stress, deliver positive endorphins and provide cathartic, meaningful outlets for people who are grieving the loss of a loved one.
Traditional grief counselling is typically limited to standard one-hour appointments in an office setting one-on-one with a therapist and rarely takes creative, unique or community-based forms.
At Camp Kerry they take a different approach. They believe in harnessing the love, compassion and creativity of an entire community to support and embrace those who are grieving. Instead of limiting their work to a few in-office counselling sessions, they engage participants for the longterm; most of their clients work with them for two to three years.
How has COVID-19 impacted the program?
Fortunately there have been no reductions in music therapy services at Camp Kerry however a lot of adaptation was required. In response to the Covid-19 restrictions, all choirs, workshops and individual music therapy sessions were moved to a secure online platform using Zoom. While most of the participants are looking forward to the day when they can safely resume in-person groups and sessions, they are also very grateful for the online options they have been given to connect and experience ongoing support through Camp Kerry’s music therapy program. They plan to continue online formats until it is safe to run in-person sessions again.
Your support will assist Camp Kerry in increasing music therapy services for 2021, by funding the wages needed in order to deliver individual music therapy sessions – which have been extremely well-received in this past year; particularly during the pandemic.
Last year they provided 82 individual music therapy sessions, and a total of 210 clients served through group sessions. Their goal in 2021 is to increase that number to 150 individual music therapy sessions. The organization is experiencing a growing demand for individual music therapy sessions; particularly for bereaved children and youth and they hope to be able to meet these requests by having a music therapist available almost every week of the year to serve these kids.
*Bobby is a fourteen-year old youth who has been attending individual music therapy sessions provided by Camp Kerry for the past six months after the sudden death of his brother. Prior to connecting with us, his mother had set up appointments with three different grief counsellors; her son would go to one appointment and then refuse to return. Since his weekly music therapy sessions began, Bobby has never been late or missed a single session. His mom reported back to us that his music therapist is “the only one he opens up to.” This is how she further describes the impact of music therapy on her son. “My son is not someone who opens up about his feelings or even wants to really talk to me. When it came to the loss of his brother, he is even more closed up, and does not talk about this loss to anyone. Finally, through music therapy, and a common interest in playing guitar, he has found someone to truly connect with.
His music therapist has such a positive attitude and is such a great mentor to Bobby. After every session I hear him practicing his guitar and he comes up with the most amazing songs. Music therapy really brings out his creativity which I am always amazed at – especially given how closed-off he has been since he lost his brother. I think it’s really hard for kids to find a sense of belonging after a major loss. Bobby shuts himself in his room most of the time alone. Recently he has just started playing his late brother’s guitar. I can see a bit more of him connecting to his brother’s memories, even though he still won’t talk about what happened. I want to say thank-you for offering this program and for your dedication to helping youth impacted by loss and grief. I know that music therapy is helping Bobby in a way that nothing