Bereavement Camps: An Opportunity to Grieve and Heal
Grieving can be a lonely experience. Being with others who are grieving can reassure you that what you're feeling is perfectly normal. Bereavement camps, seminars and retreats offer opportunities for you to connect with people who understand how to help you move forward in your grief journey.
Run by professionals and volunteers, the camps are supported by grants and donations, making them available at little or no expense to families. Separate camps are conducted for adults and children to provide unique grieving spaces.
Camps for children and teens
Losing a loved one can be especially difficult for children, so finding resources tailored to their needs is essential. Camp time is often mixed with physical activities and social events like swimming, hiking and games, which can help relieve some of the powerful emotions.
The following groups work to provide grieving children with a comfortable place to talk about their feelings and feel understood:
- Comfort Zone Camp is a nonprofit bereavement camp that brings together children who have lost a parent, sibling or primary caregiver. The free camps, which are held year-round across the country, include confidence-building programs and support groups for ages 7-17.
- The Dougy Center provides a safe place for children, teens, young adults and their families to share their grieving experience through peer support groups, education and training.
- The Moyer Foundation provides comfort, hope and healing to children of military families and hosts a free weekend-long experience of traditional camp activities combined with grief education and emotional support at Camp Erin.
- Good Grief Camps, through the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors, pair young survivors with active-duty military and veteran mentors who understand the military and can help these young survivors through their journey of grief. The camps are offered at different locations throughout the United States.
- The mission of Snowball Express is to create hope and new memories for the children of deceased service members who died while serving our country since 9/11. In December, they bring children together from all over the world for an all-expenses-paid, four-day gala filled with fun activities, such as sporting events, dances and amusement parks.
- Project Common Bond — A program of Tuesday's Children, the project provides camps and retreats for young adults, ages 15 to 20, who lost a family member because of an act of terrorism. Each summer, new Project Common Bond participants attend a summer symposium focused on global leadership activities, peace building and negotiation, skill building, and collaborative and therapeutic arts, music, drama, movement and sports.
Programs for adults
Retreats and seminars are available for adults, as well. They connect survivors with other people who have lost loved ones and teach them coping skills. Consult The Days Ahead for a full listing of support organizations.
You can also contact the Department of Veterans Affairs Bereavement Counseling (202-461-6530) if you're feeling overwhelmed by grief at any time.
Military OneSource consultants are available all day, every day by phone at 800-342-9647 or click here for overseas calling options. You may also benefit from Military OneSource's confidential, non-medical counseling service, available face to face, online, through video chat or by phone.