As we kick off this new year of spreading comfort, hope and healing to grieving children and families across the country, I would like to share my thoughts about Camp Erin and all it has done for me and my family.
My children and I had the opportunity to speak at The Moyer Foundation’s Champions for Children event in Philadelphia this past September. And while Kyle and Eve shared their personal experiences about Camp Erin, I decided that I wanted to share how it felt from an “adult perspective”. I wanted all those who attended to know and understand that, even if they never experienced loss of this magnitude, giving our children this gift of comfort, hope and healing is so incredibly similar to when we give ourselves time to “disconnect” and “recharge”.
Here’s my speech:
“I want to thank you for giving us the opportunity to share with you our experiences with The Moyer Foundation and Camp Erin.
You have heard Eve and Kyle tell you about how they felt when their dad died and how much Camp Erin has meant to them. I am here today to give you a parent’s perspective. It’s a perspective that took me a while to fully understand, but one in which I think you’ll believe makes a whole lot of sense.
I’ll never forget the first time I dropped the kids off for Camp Erin. It had been just months since their dad passed away and it was the first time since his death that they would be away from me for an entire weekend. No phones, no email, no texts, no contact. I had no idea what to expect, and neither did Kyle and Eve. Needless to say, the 45-minute ride to camp was a silent one.
After a long 48 hours that felt like 48 days to me, I arrived at Camp Erin to bring my babies home. I was so excited to see them and envisioned them jumping into my arms telling me how much they missed me and how they couldn’t wait to go home…
Well…..it didn’t quite go down that way. As I made my way to the closing ceremony circle, I spotted my kids. They were too busy telling stories and exchanging numbers to run into my arms. I even got that, Oh man I don’t want to leave yet” look from the both of them! And although it didn’t quite go as I had planned, it really couldn’t have been any more perfect.
You see, Camp Erin is different and I’m going to tell you why.
I’m willing to bet that if any one of you logged into your Facebook, Twitter, Instagram…accounts right now, you would find at least one post from someone about their latest girls weekend, or their guys golf outing excursion, right? In fact, I have one on my Facebook news feed right now! Yep, my friend, Maureen is in Charlestown, SC right now with her girlfriends, and her pictures are amazing! My next trip is definitely going to be there!
So what is it about these weekends away? We’ve all had them and it seems as though we all can’t wait for the next one, right? Why is that? Well let’s think about it. You have the opportunity to leave your “reality” whether good or bad, to spend some time with people who are like you (your friends), for a few days that are simply about YOU! The time you spend with them is invaluable because these are the people who truly “get you”. You are free to be yourself – you can laugh with them, cry with them, talk through problems with them and even come up with solutions with them.
You come back to your reality refreshed, recharged, revitalized, and yes, a little bit bummed that it’s over, but in the end, you’re so glad you went!
I know this may seem like a light-hearted comparison, but do you see where I’m going with this? The loss of a parent, a sibling, a grandparent, a friend, is absolutely devastating to a child. Their world is turned completely upside down and they look to us adults to help take their fear and sadness away. And since our worlds are turned upside down just as much, it becomes difficult for us to give them everything they need when we don’t really know what we need ourselves. They’re living in a state of stress and unknown and no way to escape. They see people coming in and out to help, schedules changing, reality changing and no one who “ really gets them” to turn to.
So imagine for a minute, giving a child who is experiencing major changes in his/her life, the opportunity to disconnect. The opportunity to spend a weekend with kids who are like them for a few days that are simply about THEM. An opportunity in a safe, caring and comforting environment to laugh, cry, heal, have fun, and solve problems with? How do YOU think they’ll feel when you pick them up? …refreshed, revitalized, and yes a little bit bummed that it’s over, but oh so glad they went!
My kids and I wouldn’t be standing up here today if we didn’t truly believe that every grieving child should have the opportunity to go to Camp Erin. It is only through the generosity of folks like you who take the time to give of yourselves that can make that happen.
THANK YOU for giving me, and my children, the gift of comfort, hope and healing. Your generosity goes so far in giving grieving kids and their families a fresh perspective full of hope for the future.”