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.