Colin and Maddy

The words “Camp Erin” brought an enormous smile to Colin’s face. His eyes appeared to double in size as he said, “Camp is magical.” “There’s a spirit there and no outside distractions. You feel like you’re in a different world.”

Shortly after the unexpected death of their dad, Colin, age 16, and his sister Maddy, age 9, began their journey to healing and hope by participating in the Children’s Bereavement Program at The Elizabeth Hospice. They each attend a peer support group where they connect with kids who also experienced the death of a loved one. “At first I was shy, “said Maddy. “But then you really bond with people and you don’t feel alone anymore.”

Colin and Maddy were among 125 children and teens who attended Camp Erin ® San Diego, a summer bereavement camp hosted by The Elizabeth Hospice in partnership with The Moyer Foundation. This camp is open to all grieving children in the community and is offered free of charge.

“Camp definitely changed me,” said Colin. “Before going to camp, I didn’t have ways to talk to my mom and sister about how I was feeling. Now I’m very vocal about my feelings. At camp, you can say things without people adding on their thoughts. You tell your story and let it sink in. Everyone feels your story and you feel their support.”

Maddy’s favorite part of Camp Erin was the plate breaking workshop where kids write messages about their anger, worries and stressors on a plate and send it soaring to a rock wall. “I got rid of everything I don’t want in this world anymore,” said Maddy.

“At Group and Camp Erin, Colin and Maddy are getting something I can’t give them,” explained their mother, Wendy. “They are surrounded by kids who know what their type of sadness feels like. Every child should have the opportunity to learn skills and coping mechanisms for grieving that don’t come naturally.”