Now going strong for over 20 years, Camp Willie is a week for children who have experienced a loss due to the death of a loved one. Campers participate in camp activities, plus take part in specially interwoven programs to help with the experience of grieving. They are supported throughout by trained resident camp staff and staff members with experience and expertise in the bereavement process.
This program, begun in 1998, is a one week session that is specially designed for children who have experienced a loss due to the death of a loved one. Campers will have the opportunity to participate in activities and housing units as detailed in the Summer brochure or this website in addition to specially interwoven programs to help children with the experience of grieving.
The experience of loss is universal. We feel it when we leave schools and friends, move to a new city, send children to kindergarten or off to college. Each time we mourn a little, and we grow a little. We understand that these experiences are part of the natural progression of life. Sometimes the natural progression is interrupted. When children lose someone they love due to death, they experience a loss incomparable to any other and must reach beyond the innocence of childhood to grasp one of life’s most profound lessons. This is compounded when the death results from suicide, homicide, illness, accident or other unexpected events. When children lose a parent, they may have lost one person who could help them the most. Other family members may understand but they too have experienced a loss and are attempting to deal with it. Friends care, but unless they have experienced the same loss, it is hard to feel they truly understand. Consequently, a child experiencing grief too often feels very much alone.
While at camp your child will stay in a cabin with other campers of the same age and gender. A specially trained resident camp staff member will guide the cabin group through an exciting week of activities. In addition, staff members with experience and expertise in the bereavement process will also offer activities and be available. A registered nurse and qualified professional counselors will be available at all times.
Campers attending the first grief camp created this beautiful swan from a large chunk of stone that was presented to them at the beginning of the week. Each camper spent a little time each day under the watchful eyes of a master craftsman. As the campers spent time with the swan they learned more about each other and shared their stories. Campers attending the second grief camp chose a location and created a home for the swan much in the same way.
The swan has become where each grief camp begins with a moment of reflection and the opportunity to meet new people and share our stories. The week ends with a special all camp ceremony in a space that has been created by all the campers. Throughout the week campers bring items that they make or find to celebrate and honor their loved one. In the process of all these items coming together are conversations and discussions that allow campers to get to know and support each other.
Campers entering grades 2 through 12 in the fall who have experienced a loss are welcome to participate in this experience. Professional Counselors will screen campers to determine their appropriateness for this specialized camp prior to final registration. To provide the best possible experience attendance is limited for this session.
We believe that every child deserves the opportunity to experience camp. If you need help paying for camp we may be able to help thanks to the commitment of individuals and organizations who financially support this program. Please contact 425 258 5437 for a financial assistance application.
To register for this program follow the directions located in the registration info box in the Summer brochure or this website. Be sure to indicate that you are registering for grief camp in the program blank. Once we receive your registration form we will send you the additional forms for this program. After returning the additional materials and being accepted you will receive written confirmation.