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updated: 4/14/2014 9:28 AM

Volunteers needed for kids bereavement camp

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By Chris LaFortune
Adventist Midwest Health

Adventist St. Thomas Hospice seeks volunteers for Camp Erin Chicago, a weekend grief support camp planned for this fall.

The camp will take place Oct. 10-12 at Camp Duncan in Ingleside, Ill., and is designed to offer support to children and teenagers ages 6 to 17 who have experienced the death of a parent, sibling or someone close to them.

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"Camp Erin promises to be deeply moving for everyone involved, but to provide the type of environment that fosters healing among our campers, we are looking for volunteers to fill very specific roles," said Heather Kochen, camp director and bereavement coordinator for Adventist St. Thomas Hospice.

Those include:

• Clinical point people: Assist camp director and clinical director with the facilitation of grief activities. Must have at least a master's level education in counseling or social work.

• Cabin Big Buddies: Responsible for a group of campers. Completes all activities with their assigned group. Experience working with youth preferred.

• Activity coordinators: Assist camp director with camp schedule. Responsible for setup and cleanup of activities.

• Camp nurse: Responsible for all health-related issues and administers medication at camp. Must be a licensed registered nurse.

• Photographer: Responsible for taking photos during camp weekend.

Interested applicants must attend an interview with Kochen at Adventist St. Thomas Hospice, 119 E. Ogden Ave., Hinsdale. Mandatory training sessions will be 6 to 9 p.m. Aug. 14, 21 and 28.

For information or an application, contact Kochen at (630) 856-6985 or heather.kochen@ahss.org.

Camp Erin combines traditional, fun camp activities with grief education and emotional support, facilitated by grief professionals and trained volunteers. Through interactions with other youth and with adults, campers learn they are not alone in their grief.

The camp provides a relaxed, safe and supportive setting for participants to express emotions, share their grief and learn positive coping skills. Bereavement activities include sharing circles, discussions on different types of feelings and a luminaria ceremony.

Other camp activities include nature hikes, rock climbing, archery, canoeing and arts and crafts. The camp will be open to 50 children.

Camp Erin Chicago is part of the largest national network of bereavement camps in the country and was established by The Moyer Foundation, a nonprofit organization founded by World Series Champion pitcher and former Chicago Cub Jamie Moyer and his wife, Karen. The Moyer Foundation partners with health-care and bereavement organizations in local communities to help fund, develop and grow Camp Erin nationwide.

The camp is offered as a partnership between Adventist St. Thomas Hospice and The Moyer Foundation, which has awarded a 10-year, $100,000 grant to establish the program. It allows Adventist St. Thomas to expand its services to the teen population, providing critical support to the community.

Adventist St. Thomas Hospice also offers support for grieving children throughout the year, with the Tommy's Kids Support Group and Tommy's Kids Summer Camp.

For information on supporting childhood bereavement camp programs at Adventist St. Thomas Hospice, please contact the Hinsdale Hospital Foundation by calling (630) 856-2000, or visiting hinsdalehospitalfoundation.org.

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