Camp Erin® Portland is a free, weekend bereavement camp for youth who are grieving the death of significant person in their lives. Children and teens ages 6 to 17 attend a weekend camp experience that combines grief education and emotional support with fun, traditional camp activities. Led by bereavement professionals and caring volunteers, campers are provided a safe environment to explore their grief, learn essential coping skills, and make friends with peers who are also grieving.
In 2002, the first Camp Erin location was established in Everett, WA, in honor of Erin Metcalf, a family friend of Karen Phelps Moyer and Jamie Moyer who lost her battle with cancer at age 17. Erin’s wish was to help other children coping with a loss. Through a network of partnerships with bereavement programs in local communities across the US and Canada, Camp Erin brings hope and healing to thousands of children and families annually.
Learn more about how Erin’s concern for other children coping with death inspired the creation of Camp Erin.
How do grieving children and teens benefit from the Camp Erin experience?
Being a grieving child or teen can be a very lonely experience. Often the child or teen is the only one in their class who has experienced the death of someone important. At a time in life when it can feel very important to fit in, grief can make them feel different and isolated. Camp Erin creates space for grieving children and teens to be with their peers that have similar experiences and feelings. It is normalizing and can be a big relief for grieving youth to know that they are not alone.
Camp Erin helps youth that are grieving to understand that what they are experiencing, though painful, is normal, and helps them to see that they are not alone. Through a variety of activities, rituals, and conversations, grieving children and teens find avenues to express their feelings and to honor and remember the person or people who died.
Learn more about how Camp Erin supports children and teens in grief.
Who staffs Camp Erin?
Professional bereavement counselors lead, train and work alongside community volunteers. If you would like to become a camp volunteer, click here for more information and to get in touch with our team.
What do campers say about how Camp Erin has helped them?
“It helped by showing me that others are going through and have gone through the same things I am. It made me feel safe and like I was free to express myself and how I feel.” - 16-year-old camper
“Camp helped me by expressing my feelings about losing my Mom and knowing that I’m not alone.” - 9-year-old camper
“It just made me realize people all around me are struggling just like me.” -14-year-old camper
How can Camp Erin be offered at no charge?
Individual donations to the Providence Foundations, grants, and supply donations allow Camp Erin to serve more than 90 campers each year. This ongoing support allows us to offer our camp free of charge to ALL participants. Click here to learn more about how you can support Camp Erin Portland.