Amazing Feeling by Comfort Zone Camper Mom

For the second year, Nicole sent her son Richard to Comfort Zone Camp after Richard’s baby brother passed away. Nicole shares what she experienced when picking Richard up from our recent camp in New Jersey and how camp has impacted her family.

I cannot tell you what an amazing feeling I am carrying in my heart right now.

Last Sunday we picked up Richard, my son, from Comfort Zone Camp. We attended the Parents Meeting and Memorial Service before heading back to our own reality.

Nothing is more moving for me than attending the Comfort Zone Memorial Service. From the moment I walked into the room, I could feel that there had been a transformation since Friday night. I could feel the energy from the other parents, who fueled by love for their children are desperately searching for a way to help them grieve. We were all hopeful that camp helped our children in ways we cannot.

The first-time parents were anxiously waiting to see their child and be relieved of the worrying they did over the weekend. The repeat parents were obvious because of our excitement for these new parents. We have come to trust the camp program, and know the impact it has on the campers. As a repeat parent, I could not wait to see how my son had blossomed and the leaps and bounds he had made in his grief work.

The Parents Meeting starts with Healing Circle Leaders sharing about the weekend. All of the parents listened intently, wanting to find out from the therapists about their child’s experience. We all took away tips to help support our kids at home until they can go back to camp next year.

Next, the kids and Big Buddies joined us and the room was transformed with positive energy. The worry that any parent had about their child was gone the moment they saw their child, and immediately recognized the positive changes.

As the Memorial Service starts, there is more support and love in that room than is thought possible in life.

Tears and laughter fill the air as each child shares about their loved one with all the campers, parents, volunteers and staff. The boundaries between children/parents, age, and the different walks of life are completely gone and we are one community of love and support.

The entire audience got involved during the Memorial Service. Together we sang songs and clapped our hands to support children who have yearned for this sort of love since the loss of their parent or sibling. Sweet Caroline, The Climb, and Lean On Me were just a few songs that filled the room with joy and sorrow. It was a safe place to cry or laugh without judgment. Kids held one another, cried together, and supported each other as they shared their story with everyone. It was beyond amazing.

The kids who may be the outcasts in their home community thrive at camp, and for possibly the first time they can be who they really are. These childhood outcasts in life are transformed into completely different people – and, as a parent who has one of those children, I cannot even begin to thank the staff for this immense gift they just gave to my child.

My son was himself and he thrived as being the big man on campus for some of the new campers. It was such an amazing gift that camp gave us as his parents…we had our son back for the first time in a long time.

5 Comments:

  1. Frank Cheatham said on October 31, 2011 at 1:41 pm ... #

    I read your article and was immediately struck by the fact that this is what I am hoping and praying for when I take my daughter back next year for her secind trip. She wanted to be a camper another time before becoming a Jr Counselor. She lost her Mom a year ago and attended a camp in Feb. The outcome was as you described and I am hoping she will have the smae positive experience in early 2012. Thanks.

  2. JoeMastro said on October 31, 2011 at 2:13 pm ... #

    Thanks for your article. I loved how you captured the emotional rollercoaster of the Memorial Service at a CZC weekend. I was privileged to volunteer as a Big Buddy at the weekend your son attended and the Memorial Service you refer to.
    It was the culmination of an amazing weekend of healing for grieving kids. That is why they seem to be so much lighter going home than they do when they arrive on Friday night.
    Thanks for entrusting your son to CZC for the weekend. And thanks for your words of encouragement for the CZC staff and volunteers.

  3. kerry neuberger said on October 31, 2011 at 3:50 pm ... #

    Thank you for sharing, as a first time CZC parent, much of what you had here hit home, especially the lat line, for a short time anyway, I had both of my sons back for the firs time in a long time.
    I remember as my younger son had a song played as a tribute for his dad wondering what song it would be, as music was a HUGE part of our lives. When it was “Pretty Good at Drinking Beer”, I thought, crap, seriously, but then I just had to laugh, it was one we always sang pretty rowdily in the car, and had fun with, and fit my son’s relationship with his dad. They kept things light, fun laughing.
    Thinking back on it all, I so appreciate that the adults didn’t say to him that it wouldn’t be appropriate and let him use that song. I’m sure there were a variety of thoughts about it by other adults, but it was the perfect song for my youngest son to use.
    CZC Camp is an incredible place for our kids, there truly is no place like it, nor the volunteers who are there for our kids.

  4. Lynn said on October 31, 2011 at 4:00 pm ... #

    Nicole, awesome post! I was a first time parent, and my son, Ty, lost his dad on June 29th, so a very recent loss. Ty has already asked to go back, and asked if he could have the same big buddy, so I would say a huge success.
    Also, I wanted to let you know that Ty has spoken a lot about Richard. They were in the same group and seemed to really bond. I’m sure he would love to keep in touch with him. My email is: lynnshaw1966@hotmail.com. Email me if you can.
    Thanks!

  5. mrnormal said on October 31, 2011 at 4:30 pm ... #

    as a volunteer for comfort zone i am so happy to read that camp is doing great things for you son.i had the honor of meeting your son’s big buddy at camp in virginia.he is a great big buddy and i know your son had the full camp experience.i am honored to be trusted with your children on camp weekends.i learn so much from them

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