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Camp Agape wraps up summer grief camp, looks ahead to next events; help is needed

Camp Agape

The 2019 Camp Agape 5K Run and 1-Mile Kids’ Walk is Saturday, August 24, at Johnson Park in Marble Falls. The event is a fundraiser for Camp Agape, which provides a therapeutic summer camp experience for children ages 7-12 who are grieving the loss of a loved one. After the run/walk, participants hold a balloon release to honor and celebrate the lives of those lost. Registration is online or the day of the race. Courtesy photo

When Camp Agape wrapped up its 19th summer camp July 11 at Camp Buckner in Kingsland, the staff and about 80 volunteers had helped transform the lives of 39 children who had lost a loved one. As the kids loaded up in cars for the trip home, and volunteers began packing up, everyone knew the work was just beginning for next year’s camp as well as the fall family retreat.

And they still need the community’s help to keep the program rolling.

Camp Agape is a faith-based, bereavement program that’s free to ages 7-12 to attend. They have a lot of fun but also learn coping skills for processing their emotions after the loss of a loved one. Kim Woerner Turk founded the program in 2000, and the first camp was held in 2001.

Since that first camp, the program has assisted approximately 700 children, all at no cost to them or their families. One of the things Camp Agape staff and volunteers stress is making the four-day camp as fun and exciting as any other summer camp. They just include a number of holistic therapies to help the kids deal with loss.

Much of its success relies on the support of the community. One way to help is by registering for the 2019 Camp Agape 5K Run and 1-Mile Kids’ Walk on Saturday, August 24, at Johnson Park, 230 Avenue J in Marble Falls. The event starts at 8AM. Entry fees are $25 for ages 13 and older and $10 for ages 12 and younger. By pre-registering, runners and walkers can ensure they get a T-shirt the day of the race. If you register the day of the event, there’s an additional $5 fee.

One of the most memorable parts of the run/walk isn’t the running and walking but the balloon release ceremony to celebrate and honor the lives of loved ones lost.

While the summer camp is a major part of Camp Agape’s mission, the board and staff decided they also wanted to help families through the grieving process. In 2017, Camp Agape began an annual family retreat for grief recovery. This year’s retreat is scheduled for November 15-17 at Camp Buckner. Like the summer camp, the retreat helps equip families with the coping skills for processing grief individually and as a unit.

Priority is given to families whose children have attended Camp Agape’s summer program. Learn more at the Camp Agape website.

If you’re interested in making a difference in the lives of youth or families going through a grieving period, consider volunteering with Camp Agape in some capacity. During the summer camp, they had about 80 volunteers help, some coming from as far away as Nebraska, Colorado, and California. But volunteers can help throughout the year in a number of capacities. Find out how at the website.

For more information on the August 24 run/walk, contact project director Janece Rolfe at