Five years ago, Brett Batterson, Orpheum Theatre Group president and CEO, brought the Mending Hearts Camp to Memphis from Chicago where he started it 16 years ago.

The camp for children between the third and eighth grades who have lost a parent will be held this month at the Orpheum’s Halloran Centre for Performing Arts & Education. The dates of the camps are: Grades 3-5, July 5-9; grades 6-8, July 12-23.

“This year, after holding the camp in the virtual realm last year, we are happy to have the campers back live and in-person,” Batterson said in a statement.

“Watching these kids share their common loss, learn about the healing properties of creative play, have access to healing counselors and talk with successful members of our community who lost a parent as a child is certainly one of the most rewarding experiences of my career.”

During the five years the camp has been in Memphis, more than 200 young people have participated in the camp and “have experienced the transformative powers of the performing arts,” Batterson, who lost his father 55 years ago, said.

Mending Hearts Camp is a camp for children who need it, not just children who can afford it, Batterson said. No one is turned away because an inability to pay the registration fee.

Batterson said The Orpheum Theatre Group is grateful to FedEx, whose chairman and founder, Fred Smith, lost his father at age four, for its corporate sponsorship of Mending Hearts Camp.

However, the camp still needs the public’s help, Batterson said,

The cost of running camp is about $1,200 per camper, but no family pays more than $50 to participate and any camper who does not have the resources to pay $50 receives a scholarship to participate.

Batterson said he asking the public to support the scholarships with donations.

To all the 200 plus campers who have attended Mending Hearts Camp, Batterson said, “Your attendance has changed my life and the lives of the other adults who have guided you in camp.

“To all of you who have donated these past five years, I say thank you for changing lives. To all of you who will become first time donors by answering this appeal, I say your gift will change lives.”

To make your donation, visit

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