This past October marked one year since I lost my dad. The first year they say is a milestone, the summation of all the hardest days in the process. There was a difficult first Father’s Day, first of his birthday’s without him, first of my birthdays, first Christmas and Thanksgiving. The one year anniversary of the hardest day of my life: a sobering reminder.
It would appear that after the first year of losing a parent, I would suddenly start to “feel better” but the truth is, year two hurts just as much year one, and if not more. The shock is beginning to fade and reality is starting to set in. The more time that passes, the longer I’ve had to live without my dad. The longer it has been since I’ve seen him, sat at table with him, been able to turn to him for advice or even just hear his voice. It feels at times you would give anything in the world just to hear him tell a corny joke or even just feel his presence in the room. One year without him only makes that more real.
Year two is also where you start to feel more alone in the grieving process. Support from those less close to you fades away and world seems to move on, even when you know you cannot. I am looking forward to volunteering at Experience Camps next year, not only to help grieving kids but also to be a part of a community that understands the loss of a loved one and the time that it takes. I’m happy to have found a group of people who also haven’t forgotten, and that it’s ok because we’re here to support each other and lift each other up. A place of loving individuals who really understand the grieving process and want to help those around them heal and feel at peace. A place where everyone just “gets it”.
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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."
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