Dr. Gloria Horsley talks with Sara Daren about operating grief camps for boys. She operates Experience Camps in Maine and New York. Her work began when she saw her husband working at grief camps designed for all kids. She realized there was a disparity for boy’s camps, as boys grieve very differently than girls. Now, seven years later, she’s beginning to offer camps just for girls, too. The bereavement camps are for children nine through 16 who have experienced any significant loss. There are also camps in California—and all camps are free.
Bus transportation is available, and the kids are brought to and from camp as funded by individual donors and grants. Daren found that while there are many bereavement camps around the county, few are free and almost none focus exclusively on boys. Boys need to play, be active, and work up a sweat before diving into a healing strategy. This is very different than how most girls heal, and trying to work with both genders while giving them the right kind of support is nearly impossible.
When kids first arrive at a bereavement camp, there are obvious differences in the attitudes of boys vs. girls. Girls may be more willing to talk right away, and they can be more emotive from the beginning. Boys can appear quiet and uncomfortable. They live in a society that doesn’t teach them how to give a voice to their grief. However, grief camps can help them learn to communicate.
It’s also a fantastic experience in a peer to peer setting. The boys are surrounded by others who know exactly how they feel. They can be open, play, be active, and work out their stress in a physical manner. Daren recommends every child consider grief camp when going through a loss.