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Camper Spotlight on Jackson

This was a note sent in by the mom of one of our campers, Jackson.

This is the face of a child profoundly impacted by Experience Camps.

Jackson with his dog Jackson, a friend, and a counselor

Jackson (age 11 and 2 1/2 years post the loss of his father) has never been a child that likes to talk about his feelings, and when we lost his dad he never really wanted to touch that subject at all. He even asked me to not talk about him because it made Jackson sad. He certainly didn’t talk about it to friends because along with being uncomfortable, it would make him stand out as different and the last thing my child wants to do is stand out or have attention focused on him.

Fast forward to parent teacher conferences last year. His teacher told me that the kids had to write an essay about anything they wanted. She was a little surprised when he came to her and said he would like to write about the day he lost his dad. She asked him if he would like to be excluded from sharing his writing in front of the class (understanding that this was a sensitive subject). His stoic response was no, I can do it. It will be ok. I might cry but don’t worry, I’ll be alright. As his teacher relayed this story to me, I was once again filled with overwhelming gratitude for Experience Camps.

Jackson and his bunk

The fact that Jackson CHOSE to share the story of the day he lost his dad is something I know would never have happened had he not attended Experience Camps. The tools you gave him, the strength he found, the acceptance of allowing himself to be vulnerable in front of others allowed this to happen. 

I will be forever grateful for what you have done for my son and look forward to seeing more in the years to come.

Jackson’s Essay:

The Saddest Day of My Life

On a cloudy day near the end of third grade, me, my mom, my grandma, and my grandpa went to the end-of-year Cub Scout meeting. My dad had to go to work that day. I was having a great time with my friends. My mom was in the hallway taking a call. I was with my grandma waiting for the badge ceremony. Suddenly my mom came into the room crying. Nothing ever makes my mom cry. What could have happened? Did she lose a piece of jewelry? Did our house burn down? Worse? I could slightly hear my mom and grandparents talking near me. “We should go home,” my grandma said. “No, I want Jackson to stay here.” My mom sobbed. I asked my grandma why my mom was crying. My grandma said my mom had a bad stomach ache. I doubted this for a second, but I believed it and went on with my day. I got my badges and then played with my friends until it was time to leave. My grandparents took me to the house where my mom was. My mom told me my dad had died in a car accident. I was devastated and cried for what seemed like hours. I will never forget the saddest day of my life. The day I lost my dad.