Colorado kids who lost loved ones grieve together at Camp Erin 2018

GOLDEN, Colo. -- There's something healing about Colorado's great outdoors.  And healing is just what the kids at Camp Erin 2018 need.

"I'm here for my dad because he was killed by a drunk driver," said one child at the camp opening ceremony.

"I'm remembering my mom who died from drugs," said another.

This is grief camp. Where kids who've lost the most important people in their lives get to visit Camp Granite Lake in Golden for one weekend in August.  We first told you about Camp Erin Denver in 2016, when we introduced you to campers Tyler and Sean.

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.

The kids get to spend the weekend in nature.  And surprisingly, that kind of scares one mom.

"Because our son died a year ago in a hiking accident, so to leave our other son here is rough, but at the same time we don't want to hide him from the world, and we want him to have some healing," Lisa Ragon told FOX 31.

Her son, Noah Ragon, 8, died at Hanging Lake near Glenwood Springs last summer.  It appears he was hit in the head by a falling rock.  A photo brought to Camp Erin Denver by his little brother Ben, 6, shows them smiling together about a half-hour before the accident that killed Noah.

"But while my parents were up there and my mom she went up to the top of the waterfall and said to my dad, 'Noah's been in an accident.'  So my dad went to check, they did CPR.  But nothing happened," Ben said.

As tragic as Ben's story is, there are also 65 other kids coping with devastating loss at Camp Erin Denver this year.

"He never expressed his feelings, so my grandpa said it was by suicide," said one girl, talking about the death of her father.

Each child's loss is as poignant as the next.

"You're losing someone who was the second half of your heart.  Someone who took care of you, and raised you and made you become the person you are," said one camper.

"We have lots and lots of deaths by suicide.  Among the campers, we have a girl here whose stepmom was murdered by her dad," said Barb Kamlet, director of Camp Erin, and executive director of Shimmering Wings, the non-profit that organizes the camp annually.

The goal is to get the kids to open up.  Help them with the healing.  Give them coping skills.

"We teach them it's ok to cry, it's ok to not cry.  Kind of how to channel those emotions," Kamlet said.

More than anything, the camp surrounds the kids with others who can relate.  Children who are also grieving.  The only ones who really know what these campers are going through.

And so few people can relate to what Ben Ragon and his parents are going through.

"I think that's a huge part of the healing, is to say, 'I'm not alone,'" Lisa Ragon said.

By the end of the weekend, Ben and those 65 other grieving kids will know they're in it together. Thanks to the healing powers of nature.  And the power of togetherness.

"I think it's amazing this place exists, and I see in the other campers that they've had a meaningful experience, they've connected with each other.  It feels like there's a sacred quality to it, and we're just really fortunate that we could be involved in it," said Aaron Ragon, Ben's father.

To learn more about Camp Erin Denver, and how to help cover the cost for grieving children to attend camp, click here.  You can also learn about the other grief loss programs offered by Shimmering Wings.

Notice: you are using an outdated browser. Microsoft does not recommend using IE as your default browser. Some features on this website, like video and images, might not work properly. For the best experience, please upgrade your browser.