By Sandra Strauss, special to the News
Going to camp is a common summer activity for many children. Going to Camp Erin Hamilton is not a common summer activity because Camp Erin Hamilton is a camp for bereaved youth who have experienced the death of someone close to them.
Thanks to a partnership created between the Moyer Foundation and Dr. Bob Kemp Hospice, the first Camp Erin Hamilton was held on June 7-9. Forty-three youth attended and learned that they are not alone in their grief.
Camp Erin Hamilton is a free weekend bereavement camp. Campers participate in traditional, fun and high-energy activities combined with professional grief counselling, education and emotional support.
This year at camp, some activities the campers did were rock climbing, swimming in the lake, playing games, experiencing archery and going on the lake in a voyageur canoe. They also made a frame for the picture of the loved one who died, created a luminary bag for the luminary ceremony by the lake, participated in a drum circle and tried laughter yoga.
In addition to the camp weekend, our partner Bereaved Families of Ontario Hamilton/Burlington, provides a continuum of care opportunity offering ongoing support and bereavement resources for the families and children.
Comments from participants from Camp Erin Hamilton 2013 shared these thoughts on their experience:
• “I can have fun even if I am sad!”
• “It helped me realize that even if my dad isn’t here, he is still with me and he will always be with me no matter where I am and how far apart we are. It’s okay to cry.”
• “There are other kids like me and everyone made me feel welcome.”
• “I made new friends and I am comfortable telling other people about my experience.”
Camp Erin Hamilton addresses the needs of grieving children by decreasing their sense of isolation and normalizing their experiences and feelings.
How can such an amazing camp experience be had at no charge to families? Seed money for Camp Erin Hamilton came from the women at the Hamilton Golf and Country Club’s “Gold for a Cause” and a grant from the Trillium Foundation has helped for the first two years. Funds and donations have come from wonderful individuals and organizations in our community.
Our goal to expand to two bereavement camps per year to serve 100 youth and $100,000 per year would support this dream.
However, for Camp Erin Hamilton to continue to serve bereaved youth in our community, we need your help.
How? Another partner and great supporter of Camp Erin Hamilton is Budd’s BMW Hamilton. They have provided us with a BMW 750i sedan worth $148,000 to sell raffle tickets to support Camp Erin Hamilton. Tickets are $25 for one or a book of five tickets for $100. The draw for the BMW will be on Sept. 19 and tickets. Be the lucky winner and support Camp Erin Hamilton!
To purchase tickets, contact Gillian Mackey at the Dr. Bob Kemp Hospice at email@example.com or 905-387-2448 ext. 2204.
Sandra Strauss is director of Camp Erin Hamilton. For more information, see kemphospice.org.