Camp Erin© Santa Cruz FAQ
What are the benefits of Camp Erin Santa Cruz?
Kids who have had a significant loss often feel different from other kids. They may feel lonely or even “weird” as they process their loss. Camp Erin provides a safe space where grief is recognized. They know they are normal, and that what they are experiencing is a part of life.
Every loss is different; all experiences of grief are different. Camp Erin is a transformative environment: a vibrant, engaging opportunity for grieving kids to be fully themselves. Some campers are talkative and express themselves with words. Others benefit from listening; from expressing themselves with art, movement, and music. Camp Erin provides the chance for kids to sharpen their emotional toolbox, as well as to be seen — truly seen — and understood.
At Camp Erin, we help kids and teens understand something about their experience: what is unique, and how to live fully while honoring their loved ones.
Who is Camp Erin for?
Camp Erin is for children and teens, ages 6 to 17, who have experienced a significant loss of someone special. While most of our campers are from Santa Cruz County, our camp is open to all. If you’re not sure if your child qualifies, we invite you to call our Camp Erin team at (831) 430-3000.
How much does Camp Erin cost?
Camp Erin is 100% free of charge.
Camp Erin is free? How is that possible?
We rely on grants and donations for our camp. If you love Camp Erin and would like to give a donation, you’re welcome to… but it’s definitely not required!
What is Camp Erin like?
Camp Erin combines traditional, fun camp activities (like archery, swimming, ropes courses, and arts & crafts) with grief education and emotional support.
Camp is held at the Mount Hermon Redwood Camp, the rustic camp among the towering Redwood trees.
What are the cabins like?
The cabins are very calming for campers. Let us help you picture it: Poised in the rustic Redwoods, each cabin holds eight beds, with four bunk beds. Each cabin sleeps eight people: six campers, and two Camp Buddies. Cabins are set up by gender and age, so kids are within a year or two of each other.
Will the kids be supervised?
Absolutely! One of the most important aspects of Camp Erin is the engaging care and support that each camper receives. With two camp buddies assigned to every six campers, Camp Erin upholds a tight-knit staffing structure that gives kids support and the opportunity to connect with their peers.
What is a Camp Buddy? How are they screened and trained?
Camp Buddies are professionals — and many are staff from Hospice of Santa Cruz, from nurses to chaplains, to social workers. Every Camp Buddy must complete their Camp Erin training and pass a background clearance. Our Camp Buddies are generally ages 25 and up.
My child is shy. Will they make friends?
Yes, you can even connect with your fellow campers before camp! Every year, we host a Save Your Spot party — a pre-camp gathering where kids can come and meet the other campers who will be joining Camp Erin. Once Camp Erin begins, kids are immersed in camp activities making it easy to meet many of their peers.
What should I pack?
We hold a family interview before camp, which is a good way for families to get a lot of questions answered. Families will have all their questions answered in person and a packing list will be provided.
How soon after a loss is the “right time” for a child or teen to join Camp Erin?
This is a great question, because every person is different! There is no hard-and-fast rule, but we can say that many campers tend to have a better experience of camp if the loss was at least 6 months prior to camp This is a case by case question, so we invite you to call our Camp Erin team at (831) 430-3000 to see if attending the next Camp Erin Santa Cruz is the right fit.
I have a teenager. Will there be age-appropriate activities for them or will they be doing activities that are a better fit for younger kids?
Cabins are set up by gender and age, so kids are grouped with their peers. While some activities are shared by all campers — archery and zipline, for example — there are specific activities that are grouped by age. We have a good showing of ages throughout camp, and structure the camp flow to meet the needs of their age.
Do you have any tips to help us prepare for camp?
Yes! We put together a list of helpful tips for first-time campers and their parents. Read it here: 7 Tips to Prepare For Your First Time at Camp Erin
How do I sign up for Camp Erin?
To access our application, click here. For more information, please call Julie Lockwood at (831) 430-3090 or email CampErin@HospiceSantaCruz.org.