Circle camps are six-day, five-night programs. Every day at a Circle camp begins at 7:30 AM and ends at 9:00 PM. After flag raising and breakfast, there are three scheduled morning activity periods, followed by lunch, rest hour, three scheduled afternoon activity periods, a free period, dinner and an evening activity. Campers move by bunk during the day; the evening activity is an all-camp activity.
The camp day is a mix of traditional summer camp sports, grief-related projects, team building activities and leadership training. We take advantage of the skills of our volunteer counselors to offer additional activities including yoga, dance, photography, and nature walks.
Empowering activities include Circle Time, when campers can choose to talk about and show pictures of their deceased parents in the company of their bunkmates; Voices of Circle: A Circle of Voices, a profoundly moving collection of camper writings compiled and ‘published’ in six days; the Rock Ceremony where campers place a handwritten message on a rock in our Memory Garden; Circle of The Stars talent Show in which campers perform before a large audience; and Camper Campfire when campers say goodbye to their Circle family. The seamless integration of grief activities into the traditional camp day makes the Circle program unique.
Since our inception, approximately 1,200 grieving young girls have attended a Circle Camp. Campers are accepted in the program on a need-blind basis and attend camp at no charge. Volunteer counselors come from all over the U.S., range in age from 19-74, and have a return rate of 90+%.
Over the past 16 years, we have learned that hosting a group of grieving young girls in an overnight camp environment, supported by dedicated, compassionate volunteer counselors dramatically impacts the lives of the girls who attend our programs. We have also learned that the mental health community underserves grieving girls, in particular teens, due to the long-term nature of grief. Our five-year Leaders in Training (LIT) program addresses this gap in services.
Grieving girls often feel isolated and removed from the world of their peers. The Circle program gives girls tools and skills to cope with their losses and enables them to make lasting friendships with others who understand their losses. Circle is unique in its integration of age-appropriate grief activities into a traditional overnight camp program.
Circle creates an environment that is safe, supportive and accepting so our campers can develop a healthy sense of self and lasting friendships with girls who understand their loss. Our highly specialized, age-appropriate grief programming, developed and implemented by a team of licensed social workers and psychologists, gives girls and teenagers the tools and skills to cope with their losses.
Circle Camps for Grieving Children is a 501(c)(3) organization incorporated in 2002 in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania