Weekend Bereavement Camp Program
Our primary objectives are to break the severe emotional isolation children experience in the wake of a parent or sibling death, to provide an immediate and sustained emotional lift that will improve their quality of life, and to teach healthy coping skills that will assist campers throughout their lives. To achieve our objectives, we offer a combination of traditional camp activities, trust-building and team-building activities, grief counseling and individual mentorship. Campers are paired 1:1 with dedicated mentors, or “Big Buddies,” throughout the entire camp session. Campers often come to camp starved for attention because the parent or guardian in their life is consumed with handling their own grief, and the 1:1 pairing model provides a dedicated mentor, friend and "anchor" for each camper. Many of our volunteer Big Buddies also suffered the loss of a loved one as a child and are able to add a unique element to the camper's experience through the sharing of their own grief journey. The matching process happens prior to camp, after campers and volunteers are thoroughly screened. Matches are based on compatibility of personality, grief experience, hobbies and cultural backgrounds. Unlike traditional therapy, campers become members of a peer community where everyone understands their experience, and campers learn firsthand that they are not alone. Mentors and repeat campers model healthy coping skills, and new campers learn first-hand how to take personal responsibility for improving the quality of their lives once they leave camp. After camp, CZC provides the means for campers to stay in touch with their mentors and draw support from and lend support to their new peer community through our secure online bereavement community and resource, HelloGrief.org. Campers may also return to camp every year until they graduate high school, and after the age of 15, may return as volunteers.