"I am overwhelmed with so many emotions after one of the greatest weekends. I found myself speechless so often. The amazing campers, the incredible, incredible, incredible staff....I just can't even express the greatness of it all."
Melville, NY (PRWEB) September 27, 2012
For a child or teen, the loss of a family member or friend can often lead to feelings of isolation and other risk factors such as depression and substance abuse. Over a weekend this past August 2012, the COPE Foundation (COPE) and The Moyer Foundation took a step forward in changing the fate of a group of bereaved children and teens as they launched Camp Erin New York City at Camp Wayne in the Pocono Mountains.
Offered in nearly 40 communities nationwide, Camp Erin is a free weekend experience for children and teens ages 6-17 that combines traditional, fun camp activities with grief education and emotional support – facilitated by grief professionals and trained volunteers. Campers are comforted knowing there are other children who have experienced similar situations and understand what they are going through. Camp Erin leaves each child feeling empowered and equipped with the skills and tools to cope with their grief in a healthy way.
Camp Erin NYC’s inaugural year welcomed 33 campers and 68 volunteers. The weekend saw laughter and tears, trepidation and exhilaration. Children were comforted meeting other children like themselves and at the same time, took advantage of all that camp had to offer such as a ropes course, art, sports, waterfront activities, music and more. The children Camp Erin NYC greeted on Friday, were not the same campers who were hugged goodbye on Sunday.
“To be able to offer grieving children an environment that was not only was fun and supportive but also provided additional tools for children to navigate their feelings and broadened their network of friends to lean on was priceless. And to be able to offer this experience at such a beautiful facility as Camp Wayne and witness children trying things for the first time such as swimming, ropes, and drumming - was immeasurable,” says Ann Fuchs, Director of Camp Erin New York City.
“I didn’t want to come, but now I don’t want to go home,” said one 12 year old boy. From a 14 girl: “That was the best weekend of my life!” The impact was visible to all who participated, and has been expressed in numerous letters from parents and in camper evaluations. One parent noted: “I was very apprehensive about sending her not knowing what to expect from the camp experience. Everything was better than I could have imagined. [My daughter] said it was great to be with other kids that had similar experiences and did not look at her strange. I did not even realize that happened at school. We both wanted to thank you and everyone involved. It is hard to put into words how grateful we both are that [our daughter] was able to have this experience.”
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, approximately 1.5 million children nationwide – some 73,000 in New York City alone – are living in a single-family household because of the death of one parent. One out of every 20 children ages 15 and younger will suffer the loss of one or both parents. These statistics don’t account for the number of children who lose a “parental figure,” such as a grandparent or other relative that provides care.
"At Camp Erin, children are in a safe and supportive environment where they can express their feelings and share their stories knowing they will not be judged and are not alone,” explains Dr. Amy Gross, clinical director of COPE and Camp Erin New York City. "Experienced grief counselors lead activities designed to foster coping skills that children can use throughout their lives, and children share their stories and feelings with peers and realize that what they are feeling is normal. This is a very important step in the grief process.”
Next year, Camp Erin NYC will be held at Camp Wayne on August 23-25, 2013. For more information on how to register a child or to volunteer, call or e-mail Camp Director Ann Fuchs at 914.939.5338 or afuchs(at)copefoundation(dot)org.
About The Moyer Foundation
The Moyer Foundation is a public 501 (c) (3) non-profit organization founded in 2000 by World Series champion pitcher Jamie Moyer and his wife, Karen. With offices in Seattle and Philadelphia, The Moyer Foundation supports programs that directly meet the needs of children in distress. The Foundation’s mission is to empower children in distress by providing education and support – helping them to live healthy and inspired lives. In addition to community-funded grants, the Foundation created and funds Camp Erin®, the largest network of free bereavement camps in the country for grieving children and teens; and Camp Mariposa®, a free camp serving children ages 9-12 who are impacted by addiction in their family. To learn more visit http://www.moyerfoundation.org
About the COPE Foundation
COPE (Connecting Our Paths Eternally) is a non-profit grief and healing organization dedicated to helping parents, siblings and families living with the loss of a ch ild. COPE’s programs have expanded to include art, movement and music therapy, special events and workshops, professional forums, a grief hotline and an extensive website, in addition to weekly support group meetings and individual one-on-one support. COPE hopes that through its programs and through the support of its members, bereaved families can learn to lean on each other and take some comfort in the fact that they are not alone. To learn more visit http://www.copefoundation.org