Generation Next

Helping Kids Live with LossCovenant Hospice Offers Children a Way to Mourn While Moving Forward with a Therapeutic Camp

By Emilie Peters

Coping with the death of a loved one is stressful for anyone, but for children, grief can be especially traumatic. To help ease the pain and confusion, Covenant Hospice of Niceville hosts Camp Monarch, a one-day event for Emerald Coast children who have lost parents, siblings or other loved ones to death.

“We have the camp to connect children in the community who have had similar losses and to let them know they are not alone,” said Mary Jo Hardin, children’s specialist with Covenant Hospice for Okaloosa and Walton counties.

Camp Monarch, which will be held on Wednesday, Oct. 10, will be located at the 4-H Camp Timpoochee, a peaceful, secluded spot on the water with shade trees – and last year, thousands of monarch butterflies that hopefully will decide to return this year.

Every year, there are a wide range of activities sponsored by Home Depot, including creating butterfly houses. There also is a climbing wall, which the kids love because it’s challenging and encourages the children to help one another, Hardin said.

She added that last year, the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps of Niceville set up a rope bridge with a person certified to teach critical rope skills to the children. And every, year the Delta Dog Society from Okaloosa and Walton counties brings eight or nine teams of therapy dogs, which prove to be very popular with the kids.

Campers are between the ages of 7 and 17. Last year, there were about 75 kids and 66 volunteers. Hardin said she has no problem finding volunteers from nurses, licensed mental health counselors and a few local residents. The majority of the volunteers are trained to deal with people who have experienced a loss, she added.

This year, the Hurlburt Quilt Brigade will make comfort quilts for every child, and Hardin hopes to create a large memory quilt, as well as some other art projects.

The day will end with what Camp Monarch calls the “fire circle.” This activity allows campers to write down feelings that are troubling them that they would like to be rid of on a piece of paper, and place it in a can that goes into a fire. The exercise gives the children the experience of letting go.

The Emerald Coast has supported the efforts of Camp Monarch for six years.

“It’s a special community that takes a look at its people who have had losses and does something to minister to them,” said Hardin, adding that young people who learn to deal with loss usually pass it on and, in turn, help somebody else.

“I know Camp Monarch has passed on a lot of compassion and caring throughout the community,” she said.


Fit for Kids

By Anita Doberman

The Boys & Girls Clubs of the Emerald Coast is organizing “Health Rocks!,” a free training program created to teach young people in Okaloosa and Walton counties how to make good health, fitness and life decisions while learning communication and critical thinking.

“Health Rocks!” helps children between the ages of 8 and 12 learn important skills including how to avoid peer pressure and how to manage stress. The program, which will run through November, emphasizes becoming a responsible member of the community and brings young people and adults together to help children make healthy choices.

For more information, call (850) 862-1616 or visit

BOGOM is the Word

By Lori Hutzler Eckert

Finding fresh fall fashions for high school- and college-age kids can be a bit of a back-to-school challenge. But BOGOM, a new clothing line designed by Florida natives Terra Palmer and Dallas Turner, offers the latest look that teens and young adults (not to mention those of us who are young at heart) crave. BOGOM features hot and hip beach-inspired clothing, including hoodies, sweatshirts, T-shirts, Polo-style shirts and hats. The line mixes traditional shapes with bold colors and creative graphics for a modern, fashion-forward statement.

BOGOM (Beaches of Gulf of Mexico) clothing is available at Houston 8 in Destin, Dune and Willow in Rosemary Beach and online at Palmer, who owns a home in Rosemary Beach, said, “BOGOM is inspired by the modern uniqueness of the preppy seaside communities in the Florida Panhandle, where what you wear off the beach is just as important as on the beach. It’s a versatile line that transcends from beach to boardwalk and symbolizes the BOGOM lifestyle of the Emerald Coast.”