The Moyer Foundation’s Camp Erin in Los Angeles was the location of the new documentary film “One Last Hug: Three Days At Grief Camp.” The documentary has been nominated for a 2014 Emmy. Photo courtesy of the Moyer Foundation
The Moyer Foundation’s Camp Erin in Los Angeles was the location of the new documentary film “One Last Hug: Three Days At Grief Camp.” The documentary has been nominated for a 2014 Emmy. Photo courtesy of the Moyer Foundation

 

The Magnolia-based Moyer Foundation (2426 32nd Ave. W., Suite 200) has been honored with an Emmy nomination for a documentary about its Camp Erin, called “One Last Hug: Three Days at Grief Camp.” 

Karen Moyer, co-founder of the foundation with her husband, former Seattle Mariners pitcher Jamie Moyer, learned about the nomination in the Outstanding Children’s Program category last Thursday, July 10. 

Despite her pride and excitement now, the documentary wasn’t always an idea she was behind. Without final rights to editing, Moyer was worried she’d “lose control of my kids,” and the campers experience wouldn’t be depicted properly. 

“I could not be more pleased with how it ended up,” Moyer said. “There’s zero Hollywood. It’s a very real camp, from the minds and mouths of what they’re experiencing.” 

The film follows children through their experiences before, during and after camp and shows the transformations that can happen in just a weekend. 

“To pull that off in a [37-minute] film is impressive,” she said. 

Another ‘layer of success’

A producer in Los Angeles, who had lost his dad when he was young, wanted to make a film around children’s bereavement and filmed at the Moyer Foundation’s Camp Erin in Los Angeles in 2011. The camps namesake, Erin Metcalf, met the Moyers through the Make-A-Wish Foundation; the trio remained close until Metcalf’s death two years later. Inspired, the Moyers created free bereavement camps for kids, with the first in Everett, Wash. 

The Moyer Foundation worked with the filmmakers to get release forms for all of the campers, and as the editing wrapped up, Moyer was able to work with the people at HBO to add some of her own special touches. She then attended the premieres in L.A. and New York with the children from the film, which was a great way to get word out about their camps to different audiences, she said. 

“The film adds a whole other layer of success for us,” she said. 

Camp Erin can be lifesaving for some of the kids, Moyer said. The camps deal with death, loss, relationships and addiction, all while being a fun summer camp for kids. 

The film is not easy to watch, and often, adults who have experienced loss start the process of healing when they see the documentary, Moyer said. The foundation is using the documentary to train its counselors at all of the nearly 45 Camp Erins. 

Moyer is “really happy that this story started in Seattle.” She’s proud that they’ve been able to use Erin’s story to help so many other children, too, and they’ve been able to use her husband’s platform as a professional athlete for good. 

This Emmy nomination is just another layer of visibility. “Death will always exist,” Moyer said. “We want Camp Erin to exist, too.” 

Moyer said she “would love a lot of money to drop out of the sky so we can continue this magic.” 

The work continues

Moyer was up early for business on the East Coast when she opened the emails congratulating her for the nomination. 

“It’s really exciting to be part of something special,” she said. “We never do anything for the accolades.” 

Now she’s busy dress shopping for the Aug. 25 awards ceremony. 

“We are just beside ourselves for so many reasons — for the story we tell and the kids we help,” Moyer said. “I wear a lot of different hats, go hear stories, give hugs, but I also have to find the money so they can come to the camp.” 

“One Last Hug: Three Days at Grief Camp” is available to watch on HBO Demand and HBO Go. 

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