Since I went to a camp just like Camp Erin, I felt that I was made to be a "cabin buddy" to a kid in need. This weekend was both inspiring and rewarding as I was able to hear other people's stories about how amazing their loved one's were and the great memories they shared. There was one camper who lost her dad in motor vehicle accident within the last year. I was able to connect with her and help her through some of her rough times because my dad passed from a car crash. A sudden death is much different than a CA death or expected death; therefore, the grieving is also much different. The grieving period for a sudden death can be extended many years due to the shock and denial that is common in sudden losses.
Many people hear about a bereavement camp and think its extremely sad and that they could not handle it. But think for a moment... helping a child understand death is a huge part of life. Death happens to someone close to us at some point in our lives. As adults we can help children through the rough times that they don't fully understand. Crying is good. Remembering the loved one is good. You want the children to keep thinking about their loved ones who passed because that is how they will keep the memories alive.
It was not all sad at Camp Erin because we took a hike, played games in the Meadows, went canoeing and even sang songs and ate s'mores! We even played a scavenger hunt and our team "won!" (even though it was friendly competition). Most of the time at the camp we spend laughing and having fun. Saturday night was the luminary ceremony where each camper lit a candle for their loved one on a raft that was pullout out onto the lake during the sunset. It was absolutely beautiful. There was a woman and a man singing with a guitar a song they wrote with all of the campers' loved one's names. It was very sad as campers were listening to the song and their heard their dad's, mom's, sister's, or grandma's name in the song and started to break down crying. (I was hoping no camper lost a loved one named Jim or James because I would have cried with them!). Many volunteers cried with their campers and held them close. It is not uncommon for every single person to cry that night. All in all, it was beautiful.
Applications are up now for next year's Camp Erin of 2016 September 23rd through the 25th. If you are in the Albany area, please consider volunteering because it is truly an amazing experience. Plus! I plan on volunteering again as a cabin buddy!
Feel free to shoot me an email if you have any questions about what its like or how I fit this volunteering weekend into my PA fall term schedule!