Kids healing kids

Super heroes found at Camp Braveheart


Camp Braveheart campers pet Fido, a service dog in training, while learning more about service dogs at activities Thursday at Marmon Valley Farm. (EXAMINER PHOTO | HALEY COOPER)

The campers at Camp Braveheart were giddy with excitement when Fido, the service dog, stopped in for a visit Thursday morning at Marmon Valley Farms.

Camp Braveheart is a free three-day camp sponsored by Universal Home Health and Hospice Care for children ages 5-13. At Camp Braveheart, kids learn to cope with their own grief associated with the loss of a loved one and learn that many other children are also coping with the loss of a loved one.

“Our theme this year is super heroes,” said Cheryl Varian, Universal volunteer coordinator and retreat director. “We talk about super powers and they have been learning you don’t have to have super powers to be super heroes. We emphasize that they have power in themselves to be heroes.”

Fido is 18 months old and is in training with Sara Stahler of Bellefontaine to become a service dog.

Fido is Mrs. Stahler’s fourth service dog through Canine Companions. She takes Fido anywhere a service animal can go, and enjoys educating the public on laws regarding service dogs.

Last year, Camp Braveheart opened its arms to 52 kids ages 5 through 13, while this year 27 kids have attended with 19 staff members assisting.

Mrs. Varian says normally, Camp Braveheart occurs during the first week of June, but the snow days that were needed to be made up for the school year forced them to push back the camp days, thus running into family vacations.

“This is our average amount of kids,” said Mrs. Varian. “It just varies from year to year depending on the kids’ needs.”

Camper Sierra DeWeese has been attending Camp Braveheart for three years.

“I like Camp Braveheart because you can express feelings with someone that has gone through what you have,” said Sierra.

Mrs. Varian says by the third day of camp, children open up far more than they did on the first day.

“We have amazing counselors, but it’s really kids helping each other heal while they share stories,” said Mrs. Varian.

Today, the last day of camp, campers released balloons in honor of their loved ones.

For more information about Camp Braveheart contact Cheryl Varian at 593-1605. For information on service dogs, visit