Hunter has always struggled with self confidence – he has trouble standing up for himself and was pretty adamant about not going to camp when his mom suggested it. So imagine his mom, Jodi’s, surprise when the first words out of his mouth when she picked him up from camp were “I’m definitely coming back next year!”
Jodi has always been a strong advocate for Hunter, especially after his dad died of Pancreatic Cancer when Hunter was just 10 months old. She tried to find resources for them both but realized that there wasn’t much out th ere for kids who were grieving the loss of a loved one. Taking matters into her own hands, she hired a 12-year old boy who had also lost his dad to be Hunter’s first babysitter. This was the start of a support network for him, but she knew that he needed more.
She found Experience Camps through an online search and knew immediately that it was the place for Hunter. He often worries that his own sadness about his dad will upset his mom, but ExCamps gives him a place to really explore his feelings without having to worry about anyone else. At home, Jodi was also comforted knowing that Hunter was safe and supported by caring volunteers and peers at camp.
Hunter encountered a lot of stories of loss during his time at camp, which brought out some new emotions for him – emotions that hadn’t been so close to the surface before. That openness and sharing allowed him to deal with his own feelings which otherwise may have stayed suppressed or boiled over with negative outcomes over time. For Hunter, his time at ExCamps began the important process of coping and healing that has continued even after camp.
When he got home this summer, Hunter walked with his head held high, something he hadn’t done before. “He left home a little boy and came back a young man.” And while it’s hard to compete with the other most magical place on earth, to Hunter and Jodi, camp is “better than a trip to Disney Land!”