Welcome to Experience Camps in California!
Experience Camps are free one-week camps for boys and girls who have experienced the death of a parent, sibling or primary caregiver. We provide a safe environment where kids can explore their grief, break the isolation they may feel with their non-camp peers, and have a whole lot of fun.
For kids entering grades 4th – 12th in the 2024-25 school year who are grieving the death of a parent, caregiver, or sibling.
Dates: August 12 – 17, 2024
Location: Green Oak Ranch in Vista, CA
What We Do
We combine the best elements of summer camp with a clinically-informed peer support model that normalizes grief and allows kids to connect with other kids who “get it,” creating a sense of community that lasts long after the last bus departs.
Grief and Play: a Cornerstone of Our Model
The first thing you will notice when you step foot into any Experience Camps is that it looks just like any other camp. There are cabins with bunkbeds and swinging screen doors. There are basketball hoops and campfire pits. And there are children running, playing, cheering, laughing, singing, and jumping.
What you might not notice right away is that each element of camp has a purpose. Those cabins create a communal living environment that require cooperation, problem-solving, and respect for each other. The athletic facilities provide a backdrop for play: the common language of childhood. They allow kids to connect without words and build trust and familiarity before opening up. The campfire pits become a place of nature, reflection and quietude at the end of a full day.
Through these essential elements of childhood, campers are learning coping and communication skills in developmentally appropriate ways. We are allowing them to be kids after a loss has altered that critical time in their lives.
Clinically Informed Fun
Each of our camps are supported by a Clinical Director, a licensed, masters-level clinician that directs a team of staff specializing in youth development and bereavement who are assigned to each camper cabin. The clinical team supports the emotional well-being of campers and volunteers, facilitates peer-support opportunities and oversees bereavement activities designed to develop coping skills, sharing opportunities, and expressions of grief.