After a 8 year hiatus, I feel so thankful to have had the opportunity to be back in the Comfort Zone Camp bubble last weekend. There’s something so magical about October, but when combined with a weekend at CZC, that magic becomes uncontainable.
From the beautiful fall weather, to the best healing circle filled with 13 year olds, to the camp staff doing the best job matching me & my little buddy — I feel so blessed to have had the opportunity to Grieve. Heal. Grow. There are so many obstacles when it comes to grief that camp is the perfect opportunity to push those aside and be in a space that allows you to grieve safely and in great company. It’s so incredibly important for young kids to see that they’re not alone.
As our campers were sharing their personal and heart-wrenching loss stories, I witnessed campers instantly feel more connected as parts of their new friends losses resonated with there's. Many had never met someone else their age that lost someone in a similar way, or even the loss of the same family member. To witness those light bulbs come on as our beautiful, strong and inspiring campers made those connections and realized that it’s okay to feel whatever they were feeling in those moments, was magical.
I love camp, as it allows everyone (even us adults) the opportunity to be a kid again. My little, had me climbing ropes, zip-lining, singing, making candles, laughing & crying.
For those that have been following along on my grief journey, know that my mom sends me signs in the form of deer and lady bugs from time to time. I knew I was exactly where I was supposed to be as I pulled into the camp parking lot and there was a deer peeking through the woods. Then on Day 2, my little and another little/big buddy pair decided to try and squeeze in rock climbing before our free-time was over. As my little was getting strapped into the harness, the Camp staff mentioned that lady bugs had recently begun swarming the rock walls. When I asked her if lady bugs were a normal occurrence at camp, she said without hesitation, “no, honestly, I’ve never seen them here before.” In that moment, I knew my Mom was there with me - thankful that I found my way back to this supportive community.
Reach out to chat, if you’re interested in volunteering or want to nominate a kid age 7 - 17 that would benefit from this 100% free camp. Camp isn’t all tears - it’s full of fun and silliness and being ever-impressed by your camper’s resiliency. You don’t need to have experienced a personal loss to volunteer, just the willingness to donate your weekend.
WHAT COMFORT ZONE MEANS TO MY FRIEND RACHAEL:
“Grieving can happen in all different ways. We can cry, share happy memories, laugh hysterically…all these feelings are okay and that’s what we all learn at Comfort Zone Camp.
I had never met someone who lost a parent until attending at thirteen.
Still today, it’s hard to talk about the loss of my father and step-brother, especially since it’s been years since I last volunteered. And much of that, like most adults, I attribute to throwing myself into work or school, always busy enough to be distracted from taking an internal pulse check.
Talking about grief and loss is
a muscle that needs to be exercised, not only when you’re feeling down but when when you’re feeling good too because we don’t only remember those we’ve lost in moments of despair. We reflect on them during our favorite scary movies or while listening to lyrics of a new or beloved song. Growing through chapters in life can also include finding how that loss fits in each new version of ourselves — something I’m working on now. I’ll always be grateful to Comfort Zone for providing me with a foundation for understanding that. It makes it a lot less scary and a lot less lonely to start exercising this muscle again.
ABOUT COMFORT ZONE CAMP: Comfort Zone Camp is a nonprofit 501(c)3 bereavement organization that transforms the lives of children who have experienced the death of a parent, sibling, primary caregiver, or significant person. Our programs are free of charge and include trust-building activities and age-based support groups that break the emotional isolation grief often brings. Comfort Zone’s programs are offered to children ages 7-17, and their families for the family programs, plus we offer young adult programs for 18-25-year-olds.
In light of the increased need created by the COVID-19 pandemic, Comfort Zone Camp is finding new ways to help grieving children. Through the new Comfort Zone At Home program, campers are able to connect virtually and still have a powerful camp experience from the comfort of their home. We have also created Family Camp programs so whole families can heal and grow together.
Held year-round across the country, our primary locations are California, Massachusetts, New Jersey, North Carolina, and Virginia (HQ). We also partner with organizations to serve their local or specific communities through our Partnership and Community by Design Programs.