Frequently asked questions and answers
Q: What is Camp Erin®?
A: Camp Erin is a bereavement camp designed for children ages 6-17 who have experienced the death of a parent, sibling or loved one. It is a weekend-long experience filled with traditional, fun, camp activities combined with grief education and emotional support — facilitated by grief professionals and trained volunteers.
Camp Erin Toronto is a core program of the Dr. Jay Children’s Grief Centre, a charitable children’s grief Centre located in Toronto. The first Camp Erin Toronto took place in 2008 and was the first Camp Erin located in Canada. Over the years we have grown to serve up to 120 children and youth annually, with dedicated volunteers that return year after year to be part of the Camp Erin community.
Many campers identify that Camp Erin has profoundly changed their experience of grief, for the better. In the words of one camper, “It made me realize that the only way to deal with my grief and be able to live life fully is to be open and talk about my special person, share my memories and stories and also talk about death, which though may be hard, helps to heal.” And from a caregiver, “My daughter just seemed more at peace with how she was feeling. Camp validated her emotions and she saw that everyone felt similar feelings. She came back with feelings of inclusion. That she wasn’t alone in her grief. She doesn’t talk much about losing her dad with me but I know she did a lot of talking at Camp and I am forever grateful.”
Q: What is the Camper Meet and Greet and Caregiver Orientation event and do we need to attend?
A: The Camper Meet and Greet and Caregiver Orientation event, to be held on Saturday, May 12th from 2:00-4:00pm at 4600 Bathurst Street – Sherman Campus; Lipa Green Building, provides an important opportunity for campers, families and volunteers to meet each other and receive additional important information about Camp Erin. Campers have the opportunity to meet their cabin groups and volunteer leaders and enjoy camp-style activities, while caregivers are provided with an information session and an opportunity to ask questions about the Camp Erin experienced. For children and youth who are feeling shy about going to camp with people they don’t know, this event provides a safe and supportive opportunity to begin to build connections and community with other campers.
Camper and caregiver participation in this event is considered mandatory. In the event that a camper cannot attend, 3rd party verification of the camper’s ability to participate successfully in a group of 10 is required. Caregivers are asked to provide contact information for a third party in the camp application.
Q: How will my camper be transported to camp?
A: Campers, staff and volunteers will travel in a chartered motor coach.
Q: What time does the bus leave Adventure Valley at 7015 Leslie Street and what time will it return?
A: All campers are asked to arrive at 7015 Leslie Street at 8:30 a.m. on Friday, June 1st. The bus cannot wait for late arrivals and will leave at 9:15 a.m. The bus will return to the same location on Sunday, June 3rd, at 4:00p.m. (the exact time will depend on weather and traffic conditions).
Q: What if my camper has allergies or special dietary requirements?
A: Please provide all allergy and medication information on the health form. We can meet most dietary requirements.
Q: What is the purpose of this outdoor experience?
A: The purpose of Camp Erin is to give grieving children the opportunity to connect with other grieving children in a fun and natural environment. Some of the activities will focus on providing the children with tools to support them in their grief and to help enhance self-esteem, while others will be for pure enjoyment.
Many of the activities will involve experiential education, which is based on the philosophy that we learn best by doing. Experiential education teaches valuable life skills such as goal setting, communication, decision making, trust building, conflict resolution and leadership.
Q: Who is in charge? What is the staff to camper ratio? What are the staff’s qualifications?
A: Counsellors and volunteers from the Dr. Jay Children’s Grief Centre will staff the camp. Many of our volunteers have extensive personal and professional camp experience and have volunteered at other Dr. Jay events. Our staff/volunteer to child ratio is 2:1 and Dr. Jay counsellors and volunteers will be sleeping in your child’s cabin. The Dr. Jay counsellors will organize and run all of the grief-based activities. Certified lifeguards will supervise all water activities, and three doctors will be on-site the entire weekend. We are committed to ensuring your child’s safety at all times.
Q: Where is the camp located?
A: Your child will be at Camp Manitou in the Muskoka region, near Parry Sound, Ontario. The campsite is a gorgeous property on a beautiful lake, roughly two and a half hours north of Toronto. It has everything a child needs for a magical adventure, including a campfire point, gently sloped beach, and vast waterfront. Cabins include washrooms with showers. Male- and female-identified campers will be in separate cabins.
Q: Will my camper be able to contact me if they need to?
A: Your child will only have access to the phone in the case of an emergency. An emergency contact number to reach the camp and Dr. Jay staff will be provided to all parents/caregivers at the Meet the Campers event.
Q: What if there is a medical emergency?
A: A medical doctor will be at the camp for the entire weekend to respond to any medical emergencies. Caregivers will be notified immediately.
Q: Does it matter what type of bag my camper packs?
A: Please pack bags that are easy for your child to carry (if appropriate for their age). He or she will be walking from the bus to the cabin. (NO SUITCASES if you can avoid it!)
Q: Should my camper pack…. Food? MP3 players? IPODS? Cell phones?
A: NO! PLEASE DO NOT pack any of these items. Your child will have plenty of food at meal times and an evening snack. Food draws animals into the cabins. All electronic devices distract from the meaning of removing ourselves from our regular, busy lives. ANY ELECTRONIC DEVICES FOUND OVER THE COURSE OF THE WEEKEND WILL BE TAKEN INTO CARE AND RETURNED TO THE CAMPER, FULLY CHARGED, AT THE END OF OUR CAMP WEEKEND.
Q: Does my camper need to bring a sleeping bag?
A: YES! If you don’t have a sleeping bag, bring a bottom sheet for the mattress and some blankets. Also be SURE to pack a flashlight!
Q: What happens if a child is caught with non-prescription drugs, alcohol, cigarettes, knives, or if they are caught causing disruptive behaviour?
A: Parents will be called and asked to come and pick up their child immediately.
Q: Will my camper be outside rain or shine?
A: Yes. Regardless of the weather, we will be outside. Please ensure your child has rain gear, WARM clothing and also ensure that you have labeled everything with her/his name. There are always loads of “Lost & Found” items at the end of camp.
Q: Will my camper be able to attend Camp Erin every summer?
A: No. Because there are so many grieving children and youth in the GTA who would benefit from Camp Erin and we have such limited space each year, children and youth will be invited to attend Camp Erin as a camper for one year only.
However, youth between the ages of 13-18 who participate in our Youth program are eligible to complete the Youth Leaders in Training (LIT) program, and may then attend Camp Erin as an LIT once. LITs are paired with cabin leaders to support younger campers through their grief experience across the camp weekend. This LIT program is unique among all other Camp Erins in North America, and year after year proves to be an effective model of peer support, leadership development and community building.
Q: Do I have to pay to send my camper to Camp Erin Toronto?
A: No. Thanks to the generous support of the Jays Care Foundation, the Moyer Foundation, Camp Manitou, Richter LLP, individual donors and past camp families, we are able to make Camp Erin Toronto free to all campers so that everyone who needs this service has equal access. However, the cost of planning and operating all aspects of Camp Erin is over $750 per child and we need to fundraise each year to support this event.
Any contribution you can make to enable this vital program to support your child and other grieving children to build community, reduce isolation and build skills for healthy grieving and lifelong resilience is gratefully accepted. Donations may be made at https://drjaychildrensgriefcentre.ca/donate/.
Should you have other questions, please feel free to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call us at 416-360-1111 ext. 209.