Camp Sheilah

Camp Sheilah 2017: Our Takeaways

As many friends of the 3Points family know, we have close ties to a local non-profit organization founded and managed by our president, Kevin Doyle. The Sheilah A. Doyle Foundation was launched in 2009 in memory of Kevin’s mother, who was murdered during the course of an armed robbery in the summer of 1993. Sheilah’s full story can be read on the foundation’s website.

Losing a parent, especially to something as senseless as a violent crime, would rock any family to its core. The Doyles were no different. When Kevin decided to give back to the Chicago community years later, it only made sense to do so in Sheilah’s name.

The mission of the Sheilah A. Doyle Foundation is to reach out to children in the greater Chicagoland area who have lost a parent, sibling, or guardian to homicide. The capstone of this mission is Camp Sheilah, held each September. During this event, campers (called Junior Explorers) spend a weekend in a safe place surrounded by adult volunteers and other children who have experienced similar loss. Sharing is encouraged, but not required. There is also a parent program that offers support to those who find themselves in the custody of children who attend Camp Sheilah.  They too experience grief after experiencing tragedy themselves.

“This was our best camp in seven years,” said Kevin. “We felt more connected to the kids than ever before, and more than half of our attendees were new.”

And there were quite a few attendees. 43 campers attended Camp Sheilah 2017, which was also staffed by more than 80 volunteers from the community. Seven volunteers were former campers who chose to return and continue to share their experiences. The parent program also reached a record high attendance with 15.

“We chose mountain climbing as the central theme of this year’s camp,” said Kevin. “We wanted to help the campers visualize their journey, starting at base camp that equips them with the tools they’ll need on their journey, followed by a climb in which they’re helped along by a belayer, and then onto the crux, the hardest part of the climb. Finally, they reach their peak – which doesn’t necessarily mean the end of the journey. There may be more mountains to climb.”

The greatest challenge of events like Camp Sheilah is addressing the very real tragedies that have changed every camper’s life. There are four breakout sessions throughout the weekend in which campers divide into smaller groups and are given opportunities to speak freely, should they so choose. Other activities include a bonfire, rock climbing, a low and high ropes challenge course, and a ceremonial floating lantern and candle lighting.

3Points is proud to offer continuing support to the Sheilah A. Doyle Foundation as we seek to be active members of the Chicago community. By seeking to proactively address grief in a caring and thoughtful way, we hope to be part of Chicagoland’s continuing transformation. For more information on Camp Sheilah, visit the foundation online.