Grief can be an isolating experience, especially to children who have lost a loved one. We’d like to share the story of a camp that gives grieving children a place to bond with other kids who understand what they are going through.
Founded by The Moyer Foundation, Camp Erin is the focus of a new documentary called ‘One Last Hug: Three Days At Grief Camp,’ which recently aired on HBO and is available on HBO GO. The documentary illustrates how sharing, friendship and emotional support can help children dealing with loss.
Camp Erin is like any other camp except every activity is focused on sharing, supporting and healing. The goal is to encourage grieving children to share their feelings and memories of lost loved ones.
Upon arrival, every camper introduces themself then shares the name of their person who died while pinning photos to a memory board. “We’re so proud of you,” says Lauren Schneider, director of Camp Erin Los Angeles, at an opening ceremony. “It takes a lot of courage to come to grief camp.”
As the board fills with pictures of lost loved ones, through the tears, campers support each other with applause. During every activity, counselors encourage children to think of the happy memories they had with the person who passed away.
“Remembering the happy thoughts felt good,” said Erin a grieving camper, “Very good.” For children who never got to say goodbye to their loved one, they get that chance at the final night’s Luminary Ceremony. Children decorate lanterns with pictures and messages then float them over a pool of water in a symbolic act.
As they head home, campers are not just connected through grief; they share fond memories of Camp Erin and the feeling of support and hope for a brighter tomorrow.
Read the story here.