Experience Camps, a national non-profit organization that provides free, one-week camps for children who have experienced the death of a parent, sibling or primary caregiver, is highlighted in Sheryl Sandberg’s newest book, Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience, and Finding Joy.
After losing their father, Sheryl’s children attended Experience Camps (the California camp location), with other kids whose loved ones have died. Along with swimming, arts and crafts, and team sports, the kids take part in bereavement activities including sharing circles where they are encouraged to talk about their grief.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, approximately 1.5 million children are living in a single-family household due to the death of one parent. In the book, Sheryl talks about how her own children benefitted from attending Experience Camps, week-long summer camps that bring together children experiencing grief; and the value of support groups connecting you with others who really get what you are going through.
“Support groups connect you with others who really get what you are going through. Deep human connection. It is not just ‘Oh, I feel bad for you’ but ‘I actually understand…….My kids also attended Experience Camps, a free weeklong program for children who have lost a parent, sibling, or primary caregiver. Two of the core values at the camp are building community and inspiring hope. In one exercise, kids went to stations to confront an emotion associated with grieving. For anger, kids used chalk to scrawl words that made them angry on the pavement. Some wrote “bullying”; others wrote “cancer” or “drugs.” Then on the count of three they threw water balloons on the ground to smear the words away and release their anger. At a second station, a camper held a brick representing guilt. As the brick became too heavy, another camper shared the burden of its weight. These exercises helped show my children that their emotions were normal and other kids felt them too.” – Sheryl Sandberg
“We are so honored to be mentioned in Option B and are appreciative of Sheryl’s impact on the conversation around grief and resilience. She will inspire more people to seek connections and support to help them get through whatever challenges they face,” said Sara Deren, Founder and Executive Director of Experience Camps. “At Experience Camps, we encourage children to find those same connections through the camaraderie and community of camp and by allowing them to realize they’re not the only ones who have experienced loss.”
In 2017, Experience Camps will have more than 450 campers at camps in Maine, California, New York, and Georgia.
About Experience Camps
Experience Camps is a place where kids can laugh, cry, play, create, remember the person who died, or forget the grief that weighs them down. It’s a place where they can feel “normal”, because everyone there has been through something similar and understands what it’s like to lose someone important to them. Along with swimming, arts and crafts, and team sports, the kids take part in bereavement activities including sharing circles where they are encouraged to talk about their grief. Experience Camps is a home away from home. And just about everyone will tell you…”It’s the best week of the year”.