Prior to the community-wide shut down in March we had taken 35 applications for our annual grief camp, Camp Erin®. As the community struggled with business closures and supply shortages, we knew we had to start making some decisions about camp. The camp weekend was scheduled to start May 29th. As that date approached quickly, we realized we would have to make alternate plans for this unprecedented pandemic. We knew we wanted to provide grief support to the camper applicants and we also wanted to follow safety guidelines for the campers, volunteers, and staff.

During a Zoom webinar with other camp leaders from around the nation, camp director Jennifer Mauceri came up with an idea to supply the camper applicants with a type of grief “tool box." At that time our “Camp in a Box” idea was developed.

We put together a box full of items that can support a child through their feelings of loss and help answer some of their questions about death and moving forward. We provided instructions on each item in the box and also included a detailed letter to the parent/guardians of these children. The boxes were full of age-appropriate grief tools such as journals, luminaries, palm stones, grief work activity books, etc.

We also provided some items of “fun,” as well as positive self-esteem building cards as well. And of course, what camp would be complete without some type of S’mores? Due to the heat, we had to settle for S’mores granola bars. During these unprecedented times, everything requires creative solutions and the Camp in a Box was full of them.   

Although we know there is nothing that can replace the magic that happens during our special weekend at camp, we are hopeful that the families who received these boxes will use the tools to open communication about their loved ones who have died.  Our camp healing circle volunteers are also committed to providing answers to questions and further grief support of these applicants if it should be needed.

We are all very proud of the work we do for Camp Erin and these Camp in a Box kits are an example of the love and care we put into it.