In 7 days, 19 hours, 2 minutes, and 13 seconds (if you’re reading this now, that number has certainly changed), I’ll be embarking on a 5-week journey to each and every Experience Camps program: Georgia, California, Pennsylvania, Maine and Michigan.
Since October 22, 2018, I have been the National Program Manager of Experience Camps. A job that I can’t even call a job, because it’s so much more than that. It’s a passion, a community, a team, a place where I feel fulfilled every single day.
Over the last 9 months I have welcomed in new volunteers, strategized for future growth, coordinated with amazing directors, exported spreadsheets, created social media content, planned events, and so much more. But in 7 days, 18 hours, 55 minutes, and 48 seconds, those tasks will turn into camp. And not just any camp. A camp full of 800 grieving kids who wait all year to be with people who just get it.
There’s Zander, whose father died of sudden illness. There’s Jake, whose mother died of breast cancer. There’s Isabel, whose father died of a heart attack. Just to name a few. Each and every camper comes in with their own individual story, but once they get to camp, they know that they’re not in this alone.
Don’t get me wrong. Our camps aren’t sad places. It’s summer camp, and it’s oh so fun. There’s milkshake making, and talent shows, and tug-o-war, and face paint, and campfires, and glitter, and high-fiving, and hugs, and at the end of the day, we go to bed smiling, ready to conquer the next day, and feeling a little less alone in our grief.
When our campers and volunteers sign up for camp, we tell them to get ready for the “best week ever,” and there is so much truth to that slogan. Camp, and the people in it, provides so much support, compassion, love, and understanding through the stuff that makes us cry, AND the stuff that makes us laugh uncontrollably (like someone getting pegged with an oily dodgeball during College League). It’s an experience you will never forget, and why so many people come back year after year.
In 7 days, 18 hours, 31 minutes, and 10 seconds, I’ll embark on the journey of a lifetime. I’ll meet almost 1300 people, give out almost 1300 hugs (if you’re a hugger!), and listen to the stories of 1300 individuals who come to camp with one to tell.
Let’s get this thing started.