May 2021 will mark 6 years that my mom has been gone. Some days go by slower than others and other days are better than some. We have missed so many birthdays, holidays, special moments and so much more that I wish we could have spent together. She was not only my mum, but my very first best friend in this scary world, and today, I am here to tell you my story.
Here goes nothing...
On May 2, 2015, my mom died of cancer. She had been struggling with the loss of circulation in her body, mainly her hands, arms, and face, and no one seemed to understand why or how. She had been to countless doctor's appointments thinking it was just sinus infections, missed days at work, and took a lot of naps, but was determined to make it to my brother's college graduation one way or another. Fast forward to about a month later, she was admitted into the hospital to finally run more tests. At first, there was no sign of cancer, then the true result came back. My dad, brother and I were at home when we got the call and immediately fell into each other's arms. That Tuesday we went to the hospital and never really left, until a few days later when my brother and I were faced with a decision we never thought we'd have to make and then she was gone that Sunday...
Experience Camps came into my life 4 years later and I'm forever grateful I stumbled across their website that day.
What is my favorite thing about ExCamps you ask?
CAMPFIRES (not just the kids love s'mores :P)
Our grief sharing circles each morning with our Clinician
College League (DUH!)
Morning Hikes (Even though I only wake up for maybe one :)
Spending quality time with my bunk. Last year we loved playing cards together during our rest period and my boys actually taught me some new games!
Watching returning campers welcome new campers with open arms and showing them that it's okay to be vulnerable
You didn't think there would be only one favorite, did you?
My very first day at camp, one of my boys asked me casually, "So, who died in your life?" I was in shock that he asked, but then was reminded that this is why we're all here, to talk about the person that died and in that moment he shared his story with me.
We do so much planning for this special week of camp that it truly is "the best week of the year." Most kids do not get the chance to talk about the person that died other than this one week of camp. ExCamps is a place where kids can laugh, cry, play, create, remember the person who died, or forget the grief that weighs them down. It's a place where they can feel "normal," because everyone there has been through something similar and understands what it's like to lose someone important to them. It's a home away from home.
We all learn that we are connected by this invisible string. You can't see it, you can't hear it, but it runs through every camper, volunteer and counselor. That no matter where we are in the world, we will always be connected and have the magic of camp with us.
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.*
From November 16th - December 31st, 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.
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. Please join me in making a difference.
*Source: COVID-19 and Grief