Almost a hundred children and teenagers who have lost loved ones will gather in Bucks County this weekend for the fifth annual Camp Erin bereavement camp.
Delaware County 12-year-old Kyle Turner went to Camp Erin last year, just five months after his dad passed away, and he’s looking forward to going back this weekend.
“It really gives you a chance to interact with people who have gone through the same or close to the same thing,” Kyle said. “You realize you’re not alone.”
Kyle said he learned how to tell other people about his father’s death in a way he was comfortable with last year. He hopes to help kids who have recently experienced loss.
The free weekend for kids from 6 to 17 is a project of the Moyer Foundation, founded by former Phillies pitcher Jamie Moyer and wife, Karen, to help kids work through their grief.
“There are kids who have yet to cry until they come to camp,” Moyer said. “They see others around them suffering the same thing, and there’s empowerment in that.”
Camp director Elise Gaul said it will be a “fun, high-energy” weekend filled with arts, crafts, games and a remembrance ceremony. She said a camp format is good for kids, who grieve in a different way than adults.
“They’re not going to sit down with a therapist or counselor and talk about their feelings,” Gaul said. “They’re going to want to express them in play and movement and things like that.”
Camp Erin, with 40 sessions nationwide, is named after Erin Metcalf, a teenager the Moyers met through the Make-A-Wish Foundation who died of liver cancer in 2000. Karen Moyer said even after the teen had made peace with her illness, she worried about the sisters she would leave behind.
“While she had peace with moving on to her death, she was very concerned about her sisters,” Moyer said. “So we started to think about the siblings, or what happens to the kids when a parent dies.”
Moyer said the foundation will launch four camp sessions this summer for kids who have lost loved relatives in the military.
Correction: In a previous version of this story Kyle Turner’s first name was incorrect.