Connie Ruble is playing it safe.
Since she realizes her grandson, Gunner Fisher, will get extremely excited about attending Memories Matter again this year, the Great Bend woman is not mentioning it – at least not yet.
“You just don’t tell a 6-year-old about an upcoming event too early,” Ruble laughed. “He will get so excited. So I am not saying anything until two or three days before.”
Memories Matter Bereavement Camp is scheduled for 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 28 at Heartland Farms, located 12 miles west of 10th and Patton in Great Bend and then a half-mile south. The camp is for kids ages 5-12 who have lost a parent, grandparent, sibling, friend or other loved one.
Golden Belt Home Health & Hospice (GBHH&H) sponsors the free annual event; the non-profit agency is part of the St. Rose Ambulatory & Surgery Center family.
Ruble’s son, Aaron Fisher, passed away in May 2012; she is now her grandson’s guardian and he lives with her.
“I read about Memories Matter in the Tribune last year,” Ruble remembered. “I called the number and they sent out an application. We want to take advantage of any help Gunner can get.”
Ruble acknowledged that when she and Gunner attended the camp last year, she was uncertain what, if anything, he would get out of it.
“With a 5-year-old, you just don’t know,” she commented. “But when we got home, I realized he got more out of it than I thought. It is amazing what he learned.”
For example, Ruble noted, the youngsters made boxes and filled them with mementos that reminded them of their loved one.
“He included things related to his dad’s love of fishing and of his dog,” Ruble said. “They also made posters. It was just different little things, such as baseball cards. He talked about his dad and shared happy memories.”
She also noted that Heartland Farms is a great location for Memories Matter. “It is kid-friendly and the staff is wonderful,” Ruble explained. “They go out of their way to help you enjoy the experience.”
Donita Wolf, GBHH&H director, said that the Ruble-Fisher family’s reaction is the reason Memories Matter is so important.
“Children grieve differently than adults and we want them to know that feelings are okay,” Wolf explained. “Since kids don’t have the same language we do, our art and music activities help them find ways to express themselves.
“These activities introduce some new vocabulary so children can match language with their feelings,” Wolf continued.
In addition, she noted, it is always a benefit when children discover they are not alone in their grief.
“We know they feel so very alone and it helps when they interact with others going through the same thing,” Wolf said. “We want them to know their feelings are normal and a reflection of the love they have for the person they have lost. This has a profound impact.”
Games and a puppet show also are on the agenda this year at Heartland Farms. This is the second year for Memories Matter at this location, and Wolf noted it is a perfect fit.
“The kids can pet the alpacas and see the chickens,” Wolf said. “It is a great venue for outside activities. It is especially gratifying because the Dominican Sisters who started St. Rose also operate Heartland Farms. We have gone back to our roots.”
For more information or to register, contact GBHH&H by calling 620-792-8171 or visit www.stroseasc.org/memories-matter-camp.