Camp Erin Chicago That Helps Children Deal With Death, Accepting Applications

CHICAGO (CBS) — A Chicago area camp that helps children deal with the death of a loved one is now taking applications for its next session in October.

“Every kid who’s here has lost a loved one. Sisters, friends, grandparents, uncles, aunts.”

Laura Cottrell, who is a therapist and a director for Camp Erin Chicago, said the camp will accept 50 children – age 6 to 17 – who are dealing with someone’s death. WBBM’s Steve Miller reports.

“The first day they come, sometimes there’s tears,” Conttrell said. “They’re afraid to be there. And usually by Saturday night, we watch them run around and we watch them playing.”

Some of the kids deal with guilt from having fun.

“Because when they have fun, a lot of kids will tend to think they are not paying the respect or the honor to their loved ones,” Cottrell said. “It’s okay to have fun.”

Cottrell said the camp staff and volunteers, of about three dozen, explain death to kids.

“And we explain suicide. And we even say that is… people are not thinking correctly. So we explain things to kids in the most honest way we can because that’s what they want to know,” she said.

Cottrell said one of the keys to helping children deal with death is telling them the truth.

“We tell the kids truth. One of the worst things you can say to kids is – we lost grandma – well, these poor little kids are thinking, where is she, she is lost, what happened” Cottrell said. “Or someone, whoever which family member went to sleep for a long time. Then kids are afraid to fall asleep. We are very honest with kids.”

Camp Erin Chicago is taking applications now for the next session, October 20-22, in Frankfort, Illinois. The camp is free.

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