Cancer Services hosted the region’s fourth annual Camp Erin® October 26-28 for children and teens ages 6-17 who have experienced the death of a loved one. Created and funded in part by Eluna, the weekend event held at Camp Istrouma in Central had 52 attendees – its largest number to date.
Camp Erin® is the largest nationwide network of free overnight bereavement camps for youth who are grieving the death of a significant person in their lives. Children and teens ages 6 to 17 attend a weekend camp experience that combines grief education and emotional support with fun, traditional camp activities. Led by grief professionals and caring volunteers, campers were provided a safe environment to explore their grief, learn essential coping skills and make friends with peers who are also grieving. Activities included rock wall climbing, making s’mores by campfire, hiking and ropes courses, in addition to age-appropriate, individualized grief support activities. Camp Erin® is free of charge to all campers. Camp Erin® in Louisiana is the only one of its kind from Austin to Tampa Bay, and this year was selected as a “model camp,” using the new organizational brand.
Campers from age 6 to 16 shared the following comments about Louisiana’s only camp of its kind:
- “I could talk and cry and no one would judge me.” – 11-year-old boy
- “Camp Erin helped me realize that I’m truly not alone when I’m grieving, so I shouldn’t push people away. It also showed me how to support others when they are in pain.” – 15-year old girl
- “Camp Erin helped me let go of stuff.” – 8-year-old boy
“This camp specifically addresses the loss of a loved one – an unfortunate but all too common situation for kids affected by cancer and other situations,” said Whitney Craig, director of Cancer Services. “The campers made such strong connections with each other, with some of them opening up about their grief for the first time.”
Through a network of partnerships with bereavement programs in local communities across the US and Canada, Camp Erin brings hope and healing to thousands of children and families annually. Since 2015, Cancer Services has been the only organization in Louisiana to offer Camp Erin®, aligning with Cancer Services’ mission to serve the emotional, financial and physical needs of individual and families living with cancer.
Local partners included GymFit!’s sponsorship of an American Ninja Warrior course and a finale fire show, and the Bella Bowman Foundation’s sponsorship of a workshop for campers’ parents.
In addition to Camp Erin, Cancer Services hosts three additional camps in the summer:
- Camp Care, weeklong day camp for children who have cancer and their siblings.
- Camp Spotlight, a weeklong musical theater camp for children impacted by cancer in partnership with Manship Theatre.
- Camp Climb, a week of fun field trips and daily therapeutic sessions for children with a parent or guardian affected by cancer.