Last month, Fairview partnered with The Moyer Foundation to offer Camp Erin - Twin Cities for children and teenagers who have lost a loved one. Campers had a weekend full of sharing, learning, listening and remembering with their peers.
Camp Erin is an annual bereavement camp free of charge for children ages 6-17 who have experienced the death of a family member or friend. It combines the excitement of camp with time to learn about grief and connect with other kids who have experienced loss.
"One of the goals of Camp Erin is to connect children and teens with each other to reduce feelings of isolation and offer hope, healing and connection among peers who know what it means to have a significant loved one die," says Katie Eisold, Fairview Youth Grief Services program coordinator.
This camp allows youth to cope with grief in healthy ways, meet others who have experienced similar circumstances, honor lost loved ones and tell their story in a safe environment.
“Camp Erin helped me realize that it’s okay to be sad, angry and scared. But, it is also okay to be happy and have fun,” says Chloe, 8, former Camp Erin participant.
Although Camp Erin is designed to help children process grief, volunteers make sure the children have fun like at any other summer camp. Campers get to climb rock walls, canoe, swim, fish, eat s'mores and much more throughout the weekend.
"It's important to provide campers with an opportunity to talk about their loved one, share their stories and find ways to heal in a safe and supportive environment," says Katie. "By providing fun camp activities, along with remembrance rituals like creating a memory board full of loved ones’ photos and holding a luminary ceremony, we recognize their grief and have lots of fun."
Camp activities merged with grief education and emotional support create an open, understanding environment where campers can confide in one another.
“Camp Erin helped me because I know I am not alone and we can all get through this together. Everyone has a different way of grieving and there is no right or wrong way,” says Alex, 15, former Camp Erin participant.
Camp Erin is the largest network of bereavement camps in the country. The Moyer Foundation, the Randy Shaver Cancer Research and Community Fund, the Richard M. Schulze Family Foundation, Eaton and generous support from Fairview employees, volunteers and donors make this camp possible. Offering this camp and ensuring it is free of charge is one of the ways Fairview is driving a healthier future.