7 Camper Stories on Father’s Day

We know Father’s Day can be a difficult time for many grieving children. Kids whose fathers have died may feel incredibly isolated as many of their friends share fun bonding activities with their dads that they post in their social feeds. The pain is hard to avoid.

But despair is no longer the only option. We asked our campers whose dads have died to share their stories to help other kids not feel so alone. We collected seven stories from our campers full of strength and inspiration.

Kaeli, 12 years old

Two campers smiling

Grief is a hard thing to overcome. It is also one of those things that is hard to understand if you haven’t experienced it. My dad passed away when I was 9 days away from turning 2 and he was 32. Since I was so young, it was very hard for me to understand.

My family tries not to look at Father’s Day as a day to be sad and missing dad. Instead, it’s a day to remember how great he was and how proud he would be to see what young ladies we have grown up to be.

One thing that has helped was learning how to be open and talk about my feelings. At Experience Camps each summer, I have learned ways to cope with my feelings of grief with the help of clinicians and through meeting lifelong friends who understand what I am going through. I can’t wait to go back next summer!


Avner, 13 years old

Boy shooting a basketball

When I was twelve my father passed away. It was the worst moment of my life. My friends were so supportive, but they had not experienced anything like it. I felt like I had nobody to talk to. One thing that helped was meeting other kids who had gone through a similar loss at Experience Camps for Grieving Children. We got to pour out our feelings to people who really understood what we are going through.

On Father’s Day I try my best to remain happy, surround myself with people I enjoy and think of all the good times I had with my dad. This Father’s Day will be much harder because I will not be able to see my friends in person. I encourage anyone who knows someone who has lost their father to reach out to them this year. To those who are grieving someone they love, make sure you reach out and talk to people who care about you too.


Isabella, 11 years old

A bunk of kids smiling

My dad passed away a month after I turned 6 from cancer. At the time, I felt like no one could understand my feelings. I couldn’t talk to my friends and I felt very lonely, even though I was surrounded by so many people who love me.

I always get kind of sad on Father’s Day. My school holds a father daughter dance and it makes me upset to hear my friends talk about it. At home, we celebrate Father’s Day by lighting candles for my dad.

Something that always helps me deal with my sadness comes from my friend Lola, who I met at Experience Camps for Grieving Children. Lola is one of a group of lifelong friends who have helped me talk about my dad and deal with my hardships. She said during the ceremony on the last day of camp — “It’s okay to cry.”


Aarielle, 15 years old

Four girls pouring water in a bucket

Death is one of the hardest things a person can experience. Most people don’t understand grief until they go through it themselves. I was four when my dad died and understanding his death became even harder as I grew older. It was like I was reliving what had happened.

Father’s Day can be very difficult for people like me. At Experience Camps for Grieving Children, I learned that we shouldn’t always be sad on days like this. Instead, we can honor all of the great things about the person we are missing and remember the good times we had together.

Although everyone’s journey is different, we all have one thing in common, we aren’t alone. It can be hard at first, but there will always be light at the end of the journey, no matter how long it takes.


Rohun, Age 15

Boy swimming in pool

I lost my father when I was nine years old. It felt like the world had a personal vendetta against me and that somehow I should have been able to prevent this catastrophe.

Every year on Father’s Day, I would hear how Max’s dad took him fishing or Simon’s dad took him to a water park. I was the odd one out. When I was 12, I found Experience Camps for Grieving Children and what I felt there blew my mind.

I was assigned to a bunk with other kids who lost their fathers and I didn’t know how to react. I had never talked to other kids about my dad. The sense of camaraderie from bonding with others who shared my grief was unlike any other. I hope that every grieving child gets to have support like this as well.


Jaymul, Age 12

Boy with baseball bat stands next to another camper

One of the ways my family celebrates Father’s Day is eating at Taco Bell. When he was growing up in Huntington Beach, it was one of the only restaurants that served vegetarian food.

 On Father’s Day we put a candle in a Taco Bell burrito. In the past, when I ate the burrito, I remembered the day that I found out he was killed by a crocodile. I relived the darkest day of my life every year.

Attending Experience Camps for Grieving Children helped me learn how to remember him at important milestones. My experience there, connecting with other people who have lost a family member, helped me rise out of my puddle of self-pity and learn to incorporate happiness into my grief journey. The motto of Experience Camp is “the best week ever” and it is truly is for me, the best week ever.


Tanish, Age 10

Volunteer and camper next to each other

My family has a tradition to commemorate our dad on his birthday and Father’s Day. We go to Taco Bell because that was his favorite restaurant. We order burritos for everyone in my family and put a candle in one just for Dad.

I was four when my dad died, and before that I really didn’t know what it was like to have someone pass away. When I’m at school, almost everybody in my class has not lost someone and they don’t know how it feels.

Experience Camps for Grieving Children helped me understand that I am not alone. At camp, we talk about our past and everybody listens, knows how I feel and doesn’t interrupt. Experience Camp helped me endure the tragic experience of losing my dad. I hope every kid who has lost someone close to them has someone to talk to too.