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What is Camp Erin?
Camp Erin is a grief camp designed for children ages 6-17 who have experienced the death of a parent, friend or loved one. It is a weekend-long experience filled with traditional, fun, camp activities combined with grief education and emotional support -- facilitated by grief professionals and trained volunteers. The Moyer Foundation partners with local hospice and grief counseling organizations in the communities where the camps exist. Because these organizations are seeing and treating grieving children everyday, they act as the natural registration points for Camp Erins in those communities.
History of Camp Erin
Camp Erin is named in memory of Erin Metcalf of Woodinville, Washington, a remarkable young woman who developed liver cancer at the age of 15. Erin had a compassionate heart and when she was hospitalized she often expressed concern for the other children there as well as their siblings, who sometimes received little attention.
In 2000, when Erin died at the age of 17, Jamie and Karen Moyer wished to honor Erin's memory and her caring spirit. Acknowledging her love of children and her desire to help others, the Moyers felt that a grief camp for children would be an appropriate tribute. The first Camp Erin was established in Snohomish County, Washington in 2002.The Need . . .
Registration for Camp Erin fills up quickly, and most camps have a waiting list. Nationally, the U.S. census estimates that 1 in 20 children will experience the death of a parent by the time they graduate from high school.
- 1.9 Million children under the age of 18 have lost a parent*
- Research indicates these children are at a much greater risk for depression, suicide, poverty and substance abuse.
- Children often feel isolated in their grief but rarely receive formal grief counseling.
Grieving children learn that they are not alone
Being a grieving child is a lonely experience. Often he or she is the only one in class who has lost a mom or dad, a brother or sister. At a time in a child's life when it feels very important to fit in, grief can make him or her feel different, isolated. Camp Erin allows a grieving child to be with other children who share these feelings. It is such a relief for them to know that they are not alone.
Grieving children learn that their feelings are perfectly normal.
The feelings that accompany grief can be intense and overwhelming. Sometimes people even worry that they are "going crazy" with grief. Camp Erin shows children that what they are experiencing, although painful, is perfectly normal.
Grieving children have an opportunity to address their feelings and memorialize their loved ones.
Children often do not have an avenue to express their grief or to honor and remember the person they held dear. Through a variety of activities including drama, arts and crafts, creative writing and physical activities, children have the opportunity to "get their feelings out" while memorializing their loved one.
- Jamie Burns
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