The Power of Camp for Bereaved Siblings

carter and haddan outside at camp in muskoka

“My story of camp began in 2008.

I was first introduced to Campfire Circle (then called Camp Ooch) after my sister, Haddan, was diagnosed for the second time with ependymoma.

When we dropped Haddan off at camp, I remember thinking how cool the Muskoka site was and how fortunate she was to be able go. When we came to pick Haddan up, she was in tears—and not for the reason you may initially think—it was because she wanted to stay longer. This was the magic of camp.

Three years later, my sister was in the hospital again, and unfortunately, she didn’t make it through. My sister, Harper, and I were invited to attend a bereaved siblings session at camp that summer. Knowing how special this place was to Haddan, I knew we had to go. So at 10 years old, I attended the camp that my sister cherished so much, and that made me so happy.

picture of carter sitting against a tree at camp

During my first week at camp, I got to know the rest of my cabin and we became really close friends—I still call them friends to this day. We talked about our passed siblings, what they were diagnosed with, and we would comfort each other. Being able to talk to other kids who can relate was an important part of my healing journey during my youth.

I was also fortunate to have amazing staff and volunteers who made camp such a safe space. Myself and the other campers were able to heal together at our own pace. Don’t get me wrong, it was not all crying all the time! The programs and activities are out of this world—I learned so much about myself and what I am passionate about. I attended every program I could because I knew how much this place meant to me and my family. I wanted to spend more time at camp.

I discovered I loved wakeboarding, camping, canoeing, and especially, photography. I couldn’t wait to come back as the camp photographer because most of all, I fell in love with being involved at camp.

Last year, I got my wish, and I spent the whole summer capturing special moments with my camera. I got to meet the next generation of bereaved campers and to work behind the scenes so that more kids are able to have the same experience that I was fortunate enough to have. Being able to grow up coming to camp taught me so many life lessons I wouldn’t have gotten if I didn’t take the leap. I wouldn’t be who I am today without the magic of camp.”
– Carter Eby, bereaved siblings camp alumni, Campfire Circle intern

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