Grief camp helps Colorado children heal from loss of loved ones

JEFFERSON COUNTY, Colo. -- Summer camp. That great excuse to get away from home.  Go out in the wild.  Go wild.

But truth is, Sean, 9, was a little reluctant to come to camp a few weekends ago in Coal Creek Canyon near Golden. He was reluctant to have fun.  Because fun makes him feel a little guilty these days. These days, life's a little gloomy.

Which is the point of Camp Erin. It’s grief camp.  A place where kids hope to gain something from an incredible loss.

And, hopefully, have a little fun, too.

“It's OK to feel what they feel. It's helpful to know that they're not alone,” said Barb Kamlet, director of Camp Erin Denver.

Camp Erin was first set up by The Moyer Foundation, a charity established by former Colorado Rockies player Jamie Moyer and his wife, Karen.

There are now nearly 50 camps nationwide, helping about 3,000 kids ages 6-17 deal with the loss of a significant person in their life.  In Denver, the charity Shimmering Wings runs Camp Erin Denver, a two-day wilderness adventure held in late August.

At last month’s camp, young children discussed losing parents for heartbreaking reasons like drunk driving accidents, cancer and suicide.

The camp is named for Erin Metcalf, 15, of Woodinville, Wash., who developed liver cancer. She died two years later.

To support Shimmering Wings, and help send more children to Camp Erin, visit its website.