Experience Camps are free one-week camps for boys and girls who have experienced the death of a parent, sibling or primary caregiver. It’s a place where kids can laugh, cry, play, create, remember the person who died, or forget the grief that weighs them down. It’s a place where they can feel “normal”, because everyone there has been through something similar and understands what it’s like to lose someone important to them. It’s a home away from home. And just about everyone will tell you…”It’s the best week of the year”.
In 2009, Camp Manitou, a residential boys camp in Oakland, Maine, extended its camp season by one week to invite 27 boys and 30 volunteer staff to Maine for a week that would ultimately change the course of many lives. Manitou Experience was born. It was a week of all of the best traditions and activities that Camp Manitou had to offer, led by the cream of the crop of Manitou’s past and present staff and directors, and a handful of friends that they would soon call family. Amazing things happened that week. 57 voices cheered with the same volume as 300. New traditions began that would become the trademark of all weeks to come. They became brothers and sisters and friends and family. It was just the beginning.
In 2013, they opened a second camp in California with 18 campers and another group of passionate volunteers. By year 2, they had grown to 43 boys in California and in 2015 they expanded once again by introducing their first girls’ program into the mix. In 2015, they also introduced their third location in Monticello, NY at Camp Kennybrook. Kennybrook Experience offers the same week of activities, silliness, and healing, incorporating the 40-year traditions of Camp Kennybrook.
As they expanded in numbers and locations, their name was changed to reflect their new national presence, and they became Experience Camps, with each offshoot including the name of its host or region: Manitou Experience, California Experience, and Kennybrook Experience.
In 2019, they will provide the experience of summer camp to nearly 800 kids at 5 locations. While their name has changed to capture the essence of their growing organization, the heart and soul of their program is as strong as ever and always rooted in the foundation of the magic that began 10 years ago.
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