An Inside Look at the #BestWeekEver: Day 2 of Camp!

[The following is part two of a five-part series of live-from-camp updates written in August 2023 by Experience Camps founder and CEO Sara Deren. We’re excited to share the camp experience with you.]


Before we jump into the day at camp, let’s take a moment to geek out on grief theory. Stay with me. This is fascinating stuff.

There is a grief theory called the Dual Process Model which defines healthy grief processing as an oscillation between confronting and avoiding loss. It means that sometimes a griever needs to face their loss head-on and sometimes they need to take a break from the heavy parts. I would argue that those breaks are even more important when we’re talking about children…which brings us back to camp.

Camp is the natural habitat of the Dual Process Model.

Today, I watched clusters of kids walking arm in arm, laughing and singing on their way to breakfast. Throughout the three morning periods, some played soccer while others played pickleball. There was football, basketball, ropes course, and volleyball, arts and crafts, culinary, and creative writing. Every kid got to try something new, play a favorite sport, or chill and make friendship bracelets.

Boys climbing on rock climbing wall at grief camp

During one of those three periods, each bunk had a sharing circle facilitated by their Grief Specialist. Every camper had the opportunity to share their story, pass around a picture of their person or people who died, and talk about whatever is on their mind. This is the heavy. It’s where we give them space to confront their losses head-on. To tell someone what really happened. To be angry at them for dying or regretful of the last words they said.

Campers truly support each other

Perhaps the most exquisite part of this experience is the way that the kids support each other. Someone will inevitably put an arm around a friend who is having a hard time speaking. One camper today told her friend “you look just like your mom!” when she was passing her mom’s picture around, and you could see in her face how much that meant to her. Most kids outside of camp wouldn’t know what to say, but at camp everyone gets it.

Activities keep bringing the joy

Then the period ends and it’s on to soccer. The heaviness of the sharing circle is lifted as they oscillate into the lightness of play. That lightness was evident throughout the rest of the day. It was like the entire camp exhaled during their sharing circles this morning. The playfulness at the pool during free swim was universal. Campers and counselors splashed each other, threw a ball around, and lounged on pool noodles. I wish I could bottle up that moment to send home with our campers for when they need it. It was pure joy. Pure childhood.

Girls in the swimming pool at grief camp being silly

The fun continued into the evening, with dining hall dance parties growing in volume and participation at each meal. Game Show Night is wrapping up now, and I can hear the cheers outside as they head back to their bunks. They are exhausted and full of energy at the same time, and I wish their counselors the very best as they attempt to get everyone settled down for bedtime.

Until soon,



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