A year and a half ago, I volunteered at Experience Camps in Decatur, Michigan, helping five 12-year-old boys meet new people, build lasting friendships, try new things and take a break from the heavy challenges they face at home.
Experience Camps are one-week camps for children who’ve had a parent, sibling or primary caregiver that died. It's a place where everyone "gets it". It's a unique blend of ridiculous fun and powerful bonds.
The camps are 100% free to all who attend and we are expanding rapidly to meet the growing demand. We started with 27 campers in 2009, and grew to nearly 750 campers this summer. We also had over 100 campers on a waitlist.
I stepped up to volunteer in part because I love camp, but more so because I felt I wasn't giving back to others nearly to the extent I know I am capable. Finding a cause and actually donating time (versus dollars) was one of my goals then, and I am thrilled that Experience Camps has helped me make a meaningful impact. And while I haven't experienced a loss personally, helping others deal with grief is a skill I plan to take with me throughout life after volunteering.
Since my first summer at camp, I have taken on an active role as a volunteer on Chicago's Regional Advisory Committee (RAC), attended Camper Reunions, hosted "virtual ice cream party" and Yoga fundraisers and maintained a commitment to the cause each and every day. Now, I ask you to help me keep this commitment going...
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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