What Is Camp Kerry?
Camp Kerry was established in 2007 by Dr. Heather Mohan as Canada’s very first family bereavement retreatment 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
We are feeling cautiously optimistic that adapted in-person family and youth retreat programs will be possible this year and will be hosted this fall in British Columbia and Ontario.
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
Camp Kerry Ontario
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. Camp registration is now being offered on a first-come, first-served basis.
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”, generally opens in April each year, you’ll notice the registration button at the bottom of this page. 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 $700 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 (accomodation, meals, therapy, activities, and more are all included).
We understand that for some families making a $700 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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 for our next family bereavement retreat program will open in the spring of 2022.
Volunteer with Us
We simply couldn’t do what we do without our amazing team of volunteers. We have opportunities throughout the year for people of all ages to get involved an support our programming in British Columbia.
Click on the button below and complete a volunteer application form if you’d like to join the team.