Kids who lost loved ones gather for grief camp in Colorado mountains

Local News

IDAHO SPRINGS, Colo. (KDVR) — In a year of unprecedented loss, grief has impacted a lot of Colorado families.

Thankfully, there’s a summer camp in the Colorado mountains designed to help kids who are coping with the loss of a loved one.

For the eighth year, children gathered Saturday for Camp Erin Denver, a grief camp organized by the local nonprofit Shimmering Wings.

Noah and Ben Ragon of Highlands Ranch pose at Hanging Lake. Moments after this picture was taken, Noah, 8, was killed in a hiking accident. His brother Ben, 6, spent the weekend at Camp Erin Denver, a grief camp for children coping with a death loss.

‘I felt very alone’

The kids range in age from 6-17 and have lost parents or siblings to everything from cancer to suicide.

A tile with a message of loss from a camper at Camp Erin Denver 2018. The camp is for grieving children. (KDVR)

“These kids are so resilient. They’re so unfiltered. They don’t care what society wants from them, they don’t care what they’re supposed to do. They’re just pure,” said Barb Kamlet, executive director of Shimmering Wings.

Many of the volunteers have a first-hand knowledge of what it’s like to suffer a childhood death loss.

“When I was 11, my 13-year-old brother died by suicide. And he was incessantly bullied as a kid. And it was something that was really hard on my family,” said Sara Chadil, camp volunteer. “And then on top of that, I became known in my class as the girl whose brother died. And it was very hard and I felt very alone. So if I would have had something like this to meet another kid who understood, it would have helped so much.”

The camp consists of a series of grief-related exercises, and this year, grieving parents were invited to attend separate sessions designed to help them cope with the loss of a child.

For more information on Camp Erin, or to apply as a volunteer or camper, visit Shimmering Wings.

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