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.
At Camp Erin, children are comforted knowing that there are other children who have had similar grief and loss experiences and feelings. Campers have an opportunity to tell their story, express their feelings and memorialize their loved ones. They are provided with the tools and resources needed during and after camp, including memories and friendships that last long after camp is complete.
Each Camp Erin is facilitated through a long-term partnership with a local bereavement agency. Together, these organizations and The Moyer Foundation raise funds to help bring the healing experience of Camp Erin to children each year.
The Moyer Foundation is committed to supporting the needs of children of military families who are grieving a loss. All Camp Erin locations welcome children of military families who have lost someone close to them.
As founders of The Moyer Foundation, Karen and Jamie Moyer are more committed than ever to the growth and long term success of the Foundation and Camp Erin. In addition to volunteering their time and talent on a daily basis to raise funds and awareness for the Foundation's mission, the Moyers have made significant financial contributions over the years including a $1 million dollar gift
in 2007 to launch Camp Erin's national expansion.
How does a grieving child benefit from an experience like Camp Erin?
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.
There are nearly 45 camp locations nationwide including two in Canada. Through the Foundation's national fundraising efforts, Camp Erin will continue to grow nationwide, including one camp in every Major League Baseball city.
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. Karen and Jamie Moyer met Erin through Make-A-Wish. 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.
The Moyer Foundation helped fund several children’s bereavement camps – including camps for the victims of 9/11, discovering the positive impact a camp of this kind could have.
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 Everett, Washington in 2002 helping 42 grieving children.