[The following is part five 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.] <> It’s our last full day of camp. Everyone is moving just a little bit slower, as if that might delay our inevitable departure tomorrow. Or maybe everyone is just really tired. Some campers are getting more emotional — aware of their return to real life, where their environments are less predictable, adults are less entertaining, food is less abundant, and friends are less understanding. If only we could freeze time and keep them with us in this bubble of happiness and safety.
As the hours wound down, there was an urgency to make every minute count. The zipline was a highlight of the morning, along with the final sharing circle of the week during clinical period. Campers had an opportunity to reflect on their time at camp and how their grief has changed. They’ve become more comfortable since the first sharing circle on Wednesday, which allows new layers of their story to unfold. The afternoon had us rolling down hills, spinning on bats, and three-legged racing in the final College League event of the week. Coppin State emerged victorious on the girls’ side, and the University of Montana won the title on the boys’ side. Final campfire, final reflections Camp took on a respectful tone as we headed into the sacred space of the Final Campfire after dinner. Luminary bags designed with camper artwork and messages lined the path, and even the chattiest campers grew quiet as we filled the benches around the fire. One by one, campers were invited to light a candle and share something about the person for whom they were lighting it. Bunkmates stood shoulder-to-shoulder, comforting each other one more time, and holding the weight of their grief together. Tomorrow morning, our campers will depart and we’ll close our firefly jars up tight to keep them with us throughout the year. Thank you for coming along on this journey with me this week. Writing these daily emails has been cathartic in a way that I didn’t expect by allowing me to reflect on the impact of our work. It was an honor to share that with you, and I am truly grateful for all that you — our friends and supporters — have shared with Experience Camps over the last 15 years to make it all possible. With a full heart, Sara
Want to find out how you can get involved?