The Blue Butterfly Family Grief Program is celebrating its fifth birthday this month by announcing a new program, a summer camp for Manatee County residents.

The free Blue Butterfly Summer Camp, for children and teens ages 4-18, will run for one week at a time and be available for different age groups, offering a safe space for participants to share stories and process grief with the comfort of knowing that they’re not alone in facing challenging emotions.

“Traditionally we take a pause from our support groups over the summer because so many of our families travel and need a break during the summer months,” Blue Butterfly Director Danielle Visone, MSW, LCSW, said. “However this year, we applied for funding from Manatee County government so that we could tap into a new area of town that we haven’t been serving to try to reach kids over the summer who might not be able to reach us during the school year due to parent’s work schedule or transportation. We also wanted to be able to serve kids with a condensed version of our group model so that we could reach more people in a short amount of time.”

The camps will be held from 9:00 am to 4:00 pm weekdays beginning June 5 at two locations, the Tidewell Family Grief Center (4151 37th St. E., Palmetto, FL 34221) and the Bradenton Dream Center (1816 Ninth St. W., Bradenton, FL 34205).

The camps will provide participants:

  • Age-appropriate support groups led by Blue Butterfly counselors and trained volunteers
  • Therapeutic activities as well as traditional camp games and activities
  • Daily sessions with drop-off and pick-up an hour before and after the camp

For more information or to submit an application, click here.

Blue Butterfly, a program of Tidewell Grief Care, launched in April 2018 with just 10 families. Since then, the program has served 508 adults, 686 kids and more than 460 families in Sarasota, Manatee, Charlotte and DeSoto counties. Blue Butterfly offers support groups for children ages 5-18 and adult caregivers. During a group night, the team runs five parallel groups for different age ranges, ensuring a safe space and developmentally appropriate discussions. Each group meets twice per month and has about 50 people in attendance.

As it extended its reach to more families, Blue Butterfly has grown into four locations. The main location is the Blue Butterfly Family Grief Center in Lakewood Ranch. A secondary location is the Tidewell Family Grief Center. Blue Butterfly has developed partnerships with Bethlehem Bible Church in the Newtown section of Sarasota and Lighthouse Baptist Church in Port Charlotte to provide services in those areas.

The incredible growth is no surprise to Visone.

“When I think back to the very first Blue Butterfly group, I was probably one of the few who believed that this program would grow so much,” said Visone, who suffered the death of her father at age 10. “I knew it would because I had been in a similar program as a kid, and I knew the impact it could have on so many. I was also aware that there were no other similar services, so we were tapping into an unmet need that our community desperately needed.”

To learn more about Blue Butterfly, visit here.