Camp Erin

Camp Erin Summer Camp for Children Grieving

Though winter weather seems to be hanging on in the Pacific Northwest and elsewhere, it is already time to be thinking about summer camps for kids. In fact, registration is open now for Camp Erin Portland. The camp, a partnership between Eluna and Providence Hospice of Oregon, has served grieving children, teens, and families since 2005. Eluna is a national network, launched in 2000, with a mission to support children in distress. Started as a small nonprofit in Seattle it reaches thousands of children impacted by grief or addiction in their families in cities across the US and in Canada each year.

Buzzy’s brother Calvin, age 12, was able to attend Camp Erin Portland last summer. We had an opportunity for a brief interview with him in order to share a camper’s point of view.

Interviewer:  How did you learn about Camp Erin and what were your thoughts about going?

Calvin:  My mom learned about it when she was looking at summer camp choices for grief support. At first, I was unsure about staying overnight. I attended the day camp, and by the end of the day, I wanted to stay.

Interviewer:  What activities did you enjoy the most?

Calvin:  The camp was from 8:30 to 5:30. There was a morning and an afternoon activity time. All the activities were grief-based. I chose fishing for both, but there was also an arts and crafts option. There was a free time during snack break and lunch to be with other campers. The focus of the first part of the day was focused on just hanging out. It felt very homey and welcoming. In the second half of the day, you are invited to share your story. The day ended with a campfire. It was good to be with other kids who understand you.

Interviewer:  How would you generally describe the other kids?

Calvin:  Even though people had different personalities I could relate to all of them. It seems that the priority for our groups was the experience we had, such as the death of a sibling or parent. It helped that the counselors with our group had also had a similar loss in their life. Also, we were generally together with our age group.

Interviewer:  What advice would you give to other kids who are thinking about going to Camp Erin?

Calvin:  I would say start by connecting and talking with someone. At first, I felt a bit uptight and shy but it was easier to talk to people who “get you” than even parents or a counselor.  At Camp Erin people know what you have been going through.

Interviewer:  Are there any other thoughts you would like to share?  

Calvin:  I am glad for the creation of Camp Erin and I look forward to going back. In the future, I’d like to help establish more camps so more kids can have this opportunity.

Check the Eluna Network website for camp information for your area.