What Is Camp Kerry?
Camp Kerry was established in 2007 by Dr. Heather Mohan as Canada’s very first family bereavement retreat program. Since then, Camp Kerry has served thousands of children, youth, adults, and families from all across Canada and beyond in locations throughout the country and United States.
The History of Camp Kerry
Camp Kerry was founded in 2007 by Dr. Heather Mohan and named after Kerry Kirstiuk; an inspiring young mother and wife who lost her battle to cancer in 2006. During her illness, Kerry and her husband Bob along with their two children Hudson (age 2) and Avery (age 4), received support from Dr. Heather Mohan who was at that time a counsellor and program coordinator in Palliative Care at Lions Gate Hospital. When Kerry died, her family requested that donations be made in her memory to Dr. Mohan’s program.
Several months later Heather approached Bob with an idea for the funds that were raised in honour of Kerry. For many years, she had harboured a dream of creating a special retreat for young families grieving the death of a loved one. Bob enthusiastically supported Heather’s idea and the very first Camp Kerry was launched in September 2007 on Keats Island. Since then Camp Kerry has grown in size and has been offered in numerous retreat locations. Bereaved families from hundreds of different urban, rural and remote communities from all over Canada have participated in this special and unique healing experience.
What’s Happening Now
In-person family and youth retreat programs are currently being offered in British Columbia and Ontario. There are always long wait-lists for Camp Kerry and our Youth Retreat programs, so if you’re interested in attending or volunteering then we encourage you to complete your applications as soon as possible.
What To Expect At Camp
A team of qualified counsellors and specially trained volunteers will welcome you and support your entire family throughout the four-day retreat. Children and teens of any age are welcome to attend along with their parent(s) and/or guardian(s). Extended family members are also welcome. Programming suitable for young children, school-aged children, youth, adults and elders is offered.
The program provides a variety of therapeutic and recreational experiences structured for success including: peer group sharing circles, family activities, music & art therapy, nature hikes, adventure challenges, fishing, boating, sports & games, relaxation, campfires and a candlelight memory service.
Accommodations vary depneding on program location, but often include heated cabins and/or spacious dorms with indoor washrooms and showers. Nutritious, home-cooked meals and snacks are provided in a central dining room and special diets can be accommodated with advance notice. Transportation to camp is the individual responsibility of each family, but assistance can be arranged for those who need it.
Camp Kerry British Columbia: September 15-18, 2023
Camp Kerry Ontario: October 12-15, 2023
Frequently Asked Questions
What age do I have to be to come to Camp Kerry?
Our retreat is geared for families .. and we know that families come in many configurations and variations! Our programming and staffing levels will accommodate the needs of babies, toddlers, children, youth and adults of all ages. Please note that children and youth are not permitted to attend Camp Kerry without a guardian or adult family member. On occasion adults/adult family members do attend Camp Kerry without children, but if this is your situation, please contact our office first for a discussion with one of our staff. Our goal in talking with you is always to ensure that a Camp Kerry retreat will be the best resource and best possible fit for you and your family at this moment in time.
What is the recommended length of time after my loss before I can apply to Camp Kerry?
Our family retreats are intensive experiences and can be overwhelming for those in the very early days and weeks after a loss. We highly recommend that you not attend a Camp until a minimum of three or four months past the date of your loved one’s death. Some people are not ready to come to Camp in their first year at all, but find it very helpful in their second or even third year of grieving. There is no exact formula or timetable as each one of us moves in different ways and at a different pace through our grief process. If you are unsure of what to expect and whether the specific timing of a retreat will suit your family, we encourage you to call our office directly for a further discussion with one of our staff.
Can I return to Camp Kerry if I have already attended?
A lot of people attend Camp Kerry for more than one year and many stay involved with our Society’s programs and services for much longer than that. We recognize that grief is an ongoing process that changes over time and that other life stressors and situations have the potential to add complexity and challenge to our bereavement.
I don't live in British Columbia or Ontario. Can I still attend?
At Lumara, we envision a world where no person ever has to grieve alone. We also understand that most communities across Canada lack adequate access to grief and bereavement care. That being said, if your prepared and able to get yourself and/or your family to one of our programs, we’ll certainly consider your application.
Can arrive late or leave early?
Alot of time, energy, and resources go into organizing these retreats each year, and our waitlists are extensive – we always have people who are desperate to attend this particular program. Our experience of people arriving late and leaving early is that it tends to be very disruptive. We also believe that those who are attending and supporting this program deserve to have the best experience/outcome possible, so we generally don’t make exceptions for those who wish to arrive late or leave early.
Upon approval of an application, we expect both our participants and volunteers to make a commit to meet the time requirements for this program. If things change, we encourage communication so that we can make room for others on the waitlist.
Can I bring a phone or mobile device?
In order to achieve the greatest outcomes we strongly encourage participants not to bring their mobile devices (phones, tablets, etc.) to any of our retreat programs.
We also understand that some people may need access to their phones when it is time to return home. So, if you do need to bring your device then our expectation is that these devices will be turned off throughout the retreat program.
What do people do at Camp Kerry?
The purpose of this program is to foster a community that provides a sense of belonging through experiences of connection, healing, and hope.
There are moments to relax as well as times that are scheduled for meals, group processes (therapy, land-based healing), and outdoor recreational activities (canoeing, hiking, etc).
I've been to Camp Kerry for several years now and feel like I am doing pretty well with my grief but I still want to stay connected and involved. How do I do this?
Camp Kerry is a community that cares and we would love for you to stay involved with us! There are year-round opportunities to participate in a variety of Society programs as a volunteer. We need help in several areas and believe that everyone has something positive to give back to their community when they feel ready to do so. For more details on volunteering or attending any of our alumni events please contact our office to inquire about volunteering with us.
When To Apply
Throughout the year you can sign up for various programs and events through our online portal as they become available.
Registration for our family bereavement retreat program, “Camp Kerry”, is now open. We strongly recommend that if your family is interested in attending that you register early because there is always a high demand for this program.
Program Contribution Fee
Despite there being little funding available in Canada for grief and bereavement care, most of our programs/services are offered at no cost to participants all across the country. We encourage participants to make contributions towards our programs because they help sustain them.
We want to give you our absolute assurance that no family will ever be turned away from Camp Kerry or any of our programs due to an inability to pay, nor will priority service be given to those who contribute more.
The suggested program contribution fee for Camp Kerry is $750 per family. This represents approximately one-third of the actual amount that the Society must fundraise to send a family to this unique and extraordinary program (accommodation, meals, therapy, activities, and more are all included).
We understand that for some families making a $750 contribution can be difficult all at once, so we’ve added some payment options that will allow you to secure your spots for your family while also helping us to sustain this program.
For those in need of financial assistance, we are more than happy to talk with you. This simply involves a short, confidential phone call with a member from our team during your registration process.
Our office can be reached at 604-553-4663. If you would prefer us to call you, then simply email us at email@example.com.
Volunteer with Us
We have opportunities throughout the year for people of all ages to get involved.
Register for Year-round Programming
To register for any of our programs that are available throughout the year please click on the button below to proceed.
Register for Camp Kerry
Registration is now open for our next family bereavement retreats in British Columbia and Ontario!
Camp Kerry BC will be held from September 15-18, 2023 near Princeton.
Camp Kerry Ontario will be held October 12-15 near Hunstville.
Due to the large number of applications we receive each year for this program, all applicants are placed on a waitlist and are notified in June as to the status of their application. If your family is struggling to cope then we encourage you to reach out and take advantage of our year-round programming.