This week marks the 26th year that Delaware Hospice has held Camp New Hope, a free day camp for children and teens who have recently lost a loved one. This summer is also an anniversary for photographer Ben Fournier, a longtime freelancer for Delaware Today, who has volunteered his talents at the camp during the past 25 years.
Fournier, of Chadds Ford, Pa., documents a day of the camp and also shoots portraits of each child that are then compiled into a yearbook and given to campers.
“Ben has been a wonderful asset to Camp New Hope,” says New Castle County camp director Earline Vann. “He’s very passionate and makes sure the kids have a good time. He captures moments that are very precious.”
Delaware Hospice was already familiar to Fournier when he signed on to volunteer.
“My sister worked there for 14 years as a nurse and Delaware Hospice took care of my mother and father 25 years ago,” he says. “I was so in awe of the compassion and [care] the staff at Delaware Hospice provided that I wanted to give back to them.
“Then I was asked to document the camp. I didn’t realize at the time it would turn into a 25-year journey.”
Fournier assists a budding photographer.
This week’s camp at Lums Pond State Park runs through Friday, June 17. The other camp is held July 5–8 at the Delaware Hospice Center in Milford.
Camp New Hope is part of New Hope, a children and teens bereavement program. Campers (ages 6–17) are guided through a variety of traditional activities while having the chance to interact with other children who have lost a parent or sibling.
The camp offers group projects, community healing, individual support, education and free time to allow children to process emotions and ask questions. The camp also hosts a special memorial service, which celebrates and honors the life of each child’s loved one.
New Hope counselors have provided support, counseling and education to about 10,000 children, teens and their families during the past 25 years.
Fournier says volunteering at the camp has been highly rewarding.
“Working with so many incredible Camp New Hope staff members and awesome volunteers year after year, you do become part of a very special family, helping so many other families,” he says. “It’s amazing how the camera can break down a wall to a child’s true feeling and allow that person to open up.”
To learn more about or apply to Camp New Hope, contact New Castle County camp director Earline Vann at 478-5707 or firstname.lastname@example.org, or Kent and Sussex counties camp director Robin Murphy at 678-4444 or email@example.com.