Overview

Camp Erin is a traditional fun, high-energy overnight camp combined with emotional support and grief education for children and teens ages 6 to 17 who have experienced the death of a loved one. Camp Erin will be held Aug. 15-17, 2014, at Camp Kuratli in Boring, Ore. Activities begin Friday afternoon and end Sunday afternoon. This overnight camp is offered one weekend every summer and is free of charge.

How can Camp Erin be offered at no charge?

Camp Erin is offered free of charge to participants thanks to a start-up grant from The Moyer Foundation. Support from donors is crucial to the growth of Camp Erin in the Portland area to ensure the camp's future in perpetuity. The camp is named after Erin Metcalf, a teenage patient of Providence Hospice of Everett, Wash. Erin's dream was to attend spring training with the Seattle Mariners baseball team, and through the Make-A-Wish Foundation, her wish was granted.

She developed a special friendship in 1998 with Mariners pitcher Jamie Moyer and his wife, Karen. After 17-year-old Erin died of liver cancer in 2000, Karen and Jamie suggested creating a grief camp for children as an appropriate tribute to Erin. Camp Erin has locations in the Portland area and in Washington, Idaho, California and Arizona. It continues to grow.

How does a grieving child benefit from the Camp Erin experience?

Grieving children and teens 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 had a parent or sibling die. 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 have similar 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.

Camp Erin shows children that what they are experiencing, though 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 who died. Through a variety of means - including ritual, grief support, arts and crafts, and physical activities - children have the opportunity to explore and express feelings while memorializing the person who died.

Who staffs Camp Erin?

Professional bereavement counselors lead, train and work alongside community volunteers. If you would like to become a camp volunteer, you may call the Camp Erin clinical coordinator.

What do campers say about how Camp Erin has helped them?

“This camp did help me. It was nice to be able to show my emotions and not feel weird or embarrassed.” - ­16-year-old girl

“I got rid of tears I knew I must.” - 9-year-old boy

“It gave me friends to talk to.” - ­10-year-old girl

“I had fun and I learned new ways to help with grief.” - ­13-year-old boy

The Moyer Foundation's mission is to offer encouragement, comfort and support to children and families enduring a time of profound distress and to provide opportunities for enhancing overall wellness, stability and quality of life. The foundation is a registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.

“Camp Erin is a dream come true. It's a real gift for children who have experienced the death of a loved one. It allows a child to process his or her loss. Camp Erin provides an opportunity for each child to meet others who are going through a similar experience.” - Karen and Jamie Moyer, The Moyer Foundation