First - a MAJOR thank you to all that supported my Camp Court -> Experience Camps fundraiser back in September. For those of you that donated, we're still working on the special edition bandanas and thank yous - expect them to arrive before the end of the year :)
For those of you that are new here or are coming back for more - more donations for more camp for more grieving kids - thank you for showing up.
As most of you know, I lost my Dad on September 29, 2018. Five days after my 27th birthday. I heard the news, towel in hand as I was about to step out onto the docks of "Camp Court" to look up at the starry night sky. I was celebrating my birthday with 30+ friends, family and teammates from work - all of them showed up to make my dream of a camp weekend come to life - and all supported me in the moments, days, weeks, and years following.
I've found that I've needed the following things to process my grief:
1. A supportive community - Cliche as it may be, I can't imagine where I'd be without the support of my family and friends.
2. A space to share my story - In the days (and years) following losing my Dad, I told the story of losing him on repeat, it was one of the ways I was able to ground myself in the reality amidst the shock of it all. Talking helps. Your listening has been a critical element of this support.
3. A prompt to reflect on what brings me joy - I still remember the first two times my friend and manager asked me what brought me joy, both times I was brought to tears. Their questions were what prompted me to tune into a deeper awareness of what that was, to pull myself out of the deepest moments of my grief, and to tune into the joyful moments that were still happening within me and around me.
4. A mission to work towards - Those that know me, know I love camp. DEEPLY. In some ways, losing my Dad while on these camp grounds surrounded by my people cemented the idea that this is where I need to be and what I need to continue working towards. Learning about Experience Camps perfectly married my passion for camp and creating safe and joyful spaces for grief.
5. Oh, and lots and lots of patience - I'm a fixer and a problem-solver at my core. It took me a few months of setting benchmarks - an "x marks the spot" on the day that I'd be able to focus, able to return back to "normal" work life and personal life and life with family and friends. It took a few months before I realized, grief is forever and there's no x marks the spot to be "healed." If love lasts forever, then healing and grieving last forever, too.
So, I'm in this for the marathon of life. And I hope you'll join me in supporting Experience Camps - in this unprecedented year filled with grief and loss for so many. See below for more context on the Experience Camps crowdfunding campaign to wrap up 2020 <3>
2020 has brought a year of hardship for all and grief for many. 1 in 5 children are grieving the loss of a parent, sibling or caregiver. And over 1 million children have been directly impacted by a COVID-related death.* 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.
From November 16th - December 31th, we are running a GoFundMe campaign to raise money for Experience Camps. But this is no ordinary fundraising campaign. It’s also a way to 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. And to ensure that we can send as many grieving kids to camp in 2021 as possible.
We’ll be looking to you, our supporters, to join together to fill the funding gap created by COVID-19 and ensure that we can fund 1,200 campers to attend camp next summer. That’s a 33% increase from last year to help meet the demand we’re seeing for our programs.
You have the power to make a real impact in the lives of grieving children and have your friends and family rally around a cause that you care deeply about.
*Source: COVID-19 and Grief
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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.
Experience Camps operates summer camp programs in 10 locations nationwide, and provides ongoing opportunities throughout the year for support, connection and community. We reframe the experience of grief and empower our campers to develop invaluable coping skills that enable them to move forward with their lives.
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."