Richmond-based Comfort Zone Camp helps children heal from tragedy

Today we're shining a light on a Richmond non-profit helping children grieve the loss of a loved one.
Published: Jul. 25, 2023 at 7:12 PM EDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - Thousands of children across Virginia have faced significant loss and adversity over the last few years as gun violence, COVID-19, the opioid crisis and other tragedies have taken a front seat.

A Richmond nonprofit called “Comfort Zone Camp” is transforming how these children heal from tragedy as more kids need access to grief support.

“Sadly, the need for services for grieving children isn’t going away,” Comfort Zone Camp Founder and CEO Lynne Hughes said. “In fact, it’s only growing, especially after things like COVID and the mental health crisis.”

Hughes lost both of her parents by the age of 12. She started Comfort Zone Camp (CZC) when she realized there weren’t many resources for children like her.

“I created the place that I wish I would have had after my parents died and Comfort Zone Camp was born,” she said.

The free bereavement camps welcome children ages 7 to 17. Many have lost a sibling, parent, or best friend.

“When you think you’ve seen or heard at all, a loss comes that you’ve just never heard of, and you think no child should have to experience that,” Hughes said.

While it all sounds somber, Hughes says the camp is designed to break the stigma and allows kids to have fun. They participate in healing circles, bonfires, games and more to make them feel less isolated.

“These kids blossom and grow and heal right in front of our eyes, and it’s just special to witness,” Hughes said. “Now, one-third of our volunteer base is former campers.”

One of those former campers is Krista Collopy, who lost her dad to glioblastoma, a fast-growing and aggressive brain tumor when she was nine. She says the camp changed her life.

“I truly felt suddenly no longer alone,” Collopy said.

Collopy now works for the nonprofit full-time as it expands to 10 different locations across America.

“Finding healthy coping skills is really the message that we try to teach at Comfort Zone Camp, and I think that’s what’s missing in our culture,” she said.

There are also different camps based on tragedies such as suicide, COVID-19 and the brand-new overdose loss camp.

“I truly thought it was gonna be very hard to fill this program, and we have filled it, and we are at all capacity,” Collopy said.

CZC also offers virtual camps and camps for parents and guardians.

To learn more, click here.