This past weekend, grieving kids from central and eastern Washington met at Tall Timber Ranch in Leavenworth for Camp Erin — Wenatchee. The camp served as a bereavement camp for children and teens ages 6 through 17 who are grieving the death of someone close to them. It was funded by The Moyer Foundation.
Campers participated in fun, traditional camp activities combined with grief education and emotional support, led by Grief Place — NCW Loss Support staff, like Karen Sheppard, director of Grief Place, and trained volunteers.
A selection of the volunteers were from the Wenatchee Valley College women’s soccer team, led by coaches Yanet Candido and John Wright.
“Having our players volunteer at Camp Erin was a win-win situation. Our players were able to have fun with the kids and also help them mourn their loved ones who had passed,” said Candido, head coach of the soccer team.
Campers arrived Friday afternoon and met their Big Buddies — volunteers who stayed with them all the weekend, to and from each activity that the camp had to offer and staying overnight in the cabins with the campers.
“I enjoyed having the opportunity to be with the kids this weekend and walk with them through the grief process,” said Mike Malmin, a volunteer Big Buddy to a group of middle school-aged boys. “It was great seeing them connect their stories and struggles, but then turn around and play, as boys do, together.”
Throughout the weekend, the campers participated in activities much like what a normal day camp would include, — field games, swimming and a zip line swing. However, certain activities were geared toward sharing stories of the camper’s loss, such as the Memory Board activity, where campers pinned a picture of the person whose death they are grieving. This activity was moving for campers and volunteers alike.
“Camp Erin helped me cope in ways I did not realize I needed help in, ”said Taylor Mackenzie, WVC women’s soccer player from Bothell. “It was the best weekend of my life.”
For more information on Camp Erin and the other programs offered through Grief Place, contact Karen Sheppard at 509-662-6069.
Braden Draggoo was a volunteer at last weekend’s Camp Erin.