Every August I spend a week volunteering as a counselor at Experience Camps, a bereavement camp for children ages 8-17 who have lost a parent, sibling or primary caregiver. The program operates summer camps in 10 locations nationwide and supports more than 1,000 grieving children. The mission of the organization is to create an environment where kids can play, laugh, cry, and share openly in a setting where everyone kind of "gets it". It is an experience beyond what I can convey in this note. It truly is the Best Week Ever.
Why does it mean so much to me? When I was 19 years old I lost my mother to breast cancer, and it wasn’t until my late twenties that I realized I had gravely miscalculated how much I needed her. In 2016, a friend referred me to Experience Camps. And opting to participate was one of the greatest decisions of my life.
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.