Adapting and Mobilizing During The Pandemic: Camp Erin® Boston

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The Parmenter Foundation was thrilled to fund Camp Erin Boston as the program astutely pivoted to an adapted camp model to maintain support for grieving children during the pandemic. On short notice, Camp Erin Boston converted from planning its traditional in-person, three-day bereavement camp to developing new virtual events, including Camp Erin Boston Project Reunion. This was a huge undertaking, but the Camp Erin team met the challenge head-on as they contacted more than 1,000 campers and volunteers from the past eight years to coordinate online camp reunions.

The reunions, held via Zoom, consisted of music, slide shows and videos from previous camps, and emotional reminiscing among campers, “Big Buddies,” and grief counselors. Campers also did “show and tells” to share objects or photos of their loved ones who had passed and took part in a modified version of their traditional “luminary ceremony,” during which they lit candles in memory of their deceased persons. This was a meaningful opportunity for the Camp Erin team to connect with numerous families from past camps and hear about their grief journeys and experiences during the pandemic. It was also a forum in which to provide psycho-education and support around grief and its manifestations over time, as well as emphasize the importance of virtual grief support services throughout this extraordinary crisis.

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