Little Warrior Camps offer support for children of fallen service members

TOOELE COUNTY, Utah -- Utah children who have lost a parent or other close loved one who was serving our country or who died by suicide while battling PTSD got a break from their grief this week.

“We allow for the kids to come up here for two nights and three days and we just let them run wild and do whatever they want,” said Bob Pagnani, Chairman of the Utah Elks Veterans.

This is the fourth year for the Elks' run camp. It started with 17 kids, growing to 62 this year.

“We’re at Little Warriors because my Dad passed away just a year back,” Serenity said. “When you are having fun you don’t really think about other stuff that's going to worry you and put pressure on you.”

The camp includes a climbing wall, a zip line, a pool, basketball courts, scavenger hunts and other activities, but it’s not just for the kids.

“The parents are caregivers for these kids because they’ve lost a loved one, so we’re trying to give the parents some time to relax,” Pagnani said.

This year, a counselor was at the camp to help deal with the losses the kids share as a common bond.

“When they sit by the pool we can hear them, 'Oh, what happened to your parent?' or something like that, and I think that’s the therapy that helps them, that there are others just like them,” Pagnani said.

If you know a child who has suffered the loss of a closed loved one and you would like to sign up for future Little Warrior Camps, you can contact the Elks Lodges of Utah and Utah Survivor Outreach Services via Facebook.