My dad was everyone’s best friend. The life of the party. He was wise, generous, funny, smart, and tough. When he was diagnosed with cancer, everyone believed he would beat it. As he used to say himself, he was going to "kick cancer's ass."
At 23 years old, I was preoccupied with work, friends, girls, and parties. But I felt like I was also on the cusp of that time in a man’s life when he starts to become friends with his father. My dad and I especially were so alike. In between chemo, petty arguments about the present, and unresolved tension over the past, we were starting to become genuine friends.
But on August 4th, 2012, my dad lost his battle with cancer. On that day, I lost the best friend I never had.
Death is a part of life, and therefore so is grief. At 31 years old today, my grief journey is still ongoing.
Sadly, there has been a lot of grief this year. Over 1 million children have been directly impacted by a COVID-related death.
Many of those children never got a chance to say goodbye to their loved ones. Many never got to be in the same room.
While no experience with grief is the same, sharing stories helps us feel less alone. That’s what Experience Camps is all about.
For the past 5 years, I’ve been a volunteer counselor at Experience Camps for children who have experienced the death of a parent, sibling, or caregiver. My weeks at ExCamps are a beautiful example of how shared adversity brings people together and can be the greatest driver of growth.
Sitting in a circle alongside young men + fellow counselors, sharing experiences with death and grief, has helped me become the person I am today. Every moment connecting with a member of the Experience Camps family, whether it’s a camper or a peer, reminds me that I’m not alone. I always say, if my Leaders in Training learn as much from me as I do from them, I’m a happy camper.
With grief support needed more than ever, we must come back bigger and better in 2021 and meet the anticipated increase in demand due to COVID-19. To make that happen, we need your help.
Through the end of 2020, we are running a GoFundMe campaign to raise money for Experience Camps and share the stories of loss that so many of us have experienced. It’s a way to show grieving children that they are not alone.
You have the power to make a real impact. As we head into the holidays, consider donating any amount you can to this cause. No amount is too small.
● $50: Provides a camper's supplies for all of clinical (bereavement) activities for the week
● $100: Funds a bunk pizza party for 20 campers
● $250: Provides a travel scholarship for a camper who otherwise could not afford to attend camp
● $500: Staffs one of our clinicians who supports two bunks of campers for a full week
● $1,000: Provides travel scholarship for 4 campers who otherwise could not afford to attend camp
● $2,500: Provides one child with a full year of Experience Camps programming, including one week of camp, reunions and other year-round support.
● $5,000: Provides two (2) children with a full year of Experience Camps programming, including one week of camp, reunions and other year round support.
Thank you so much for hearing my story, and considering a donation to this incredible organization.
- - - - - - - - - -
Experience Camps are nationally recognized summer camps for grieving children, ages 9-17, who have experienced the death of a parent, sibling or caregiver. We give grieving children experiences that will change their lives forever. With nearly 5 million children in the US currently grieving the loss of a close family member, the need is enormous.
Since 2009, Experience Camps has transformed the lives of thousands of children by bringing light to the profound darkness of grief. We offer a community where kids can laugh, cry, play, create, honor the memory of the person who died or forget the grief that weighs them down. It's a home away from home. And just about everyone will tell you... "It's the best week of the year."