“Soaring Spirits International Celebrates 5 Years at Camp Widow West”

I first heard about this wonderful organization on Twitter in a mention by @BrendaLeeFree. When I first started following Brenda a few years ago on Twitter and her blog at http://brendaleefree.com/, she was a widow. Life has changed for Brenda since then. She is of late a brand new bride, happily remarried. Though she is remarried, she still promotes this compassionate organization. It was a recent post on Facebook by Brenda that caught my eye. She mentioned that  Camp Widow is deaf friendly.

To find out more, I contacted Brenda who put me in touch with the organization. I was thrilled when Janine Eggers sent me this post to share with you.

“Soaring Spirits International Celebrates 5 Years at Camp Widow West”
Yes, although you most likely did a double take at reading those two words … you read them correctly.
Camp Widow.
Sounds like a huge Kleenex-soaked event, doesn’t it?
I mean really … “Camp”.
And “Widow”?
Most people would read that and think, “What kind of widowed people want to gather and call it camp?  And do they all wear black?”
Those thoughts would be followed by, “Note to self:  stay far, far away from that hotel that weekend!”
Yes, we know what non-widowed people think when they hear about us.  We used to have the same thoughts.  After all, we haven’t always been widowed.
And what’s more, we never thought we’d be widowed.  Especially this early in our lives.
But we are, and thankfully Soaring Spirits started five years ago by a young widowed woman who wanted to connect with other young widowed people.
Michele Neff Hernandez found nothing in her search for connections, and so on May 27, 2008 Soaring Spirits was born and incorporated.
What started with one small on-line program led by 4 board members, has now become a non-profit organization that offers three on-line support opportunities, two weekend long in-person events per year (Camp Widow East and West), and support to over one million widowed people world-wide each year.  We are the largest peer support group of our kind out there, providing support for widowed people in every single state in the U.S. and in over 157 countries.
And Camp Widow?
It’s not what you think.  Nor is it like anything you can imagine.
If you were to walk into the hotel that weekend, you’d be hard pressed to point us out.
We don’t wear black (unless it’s a formal dress at our annual Awards Dinner and Dance on Saturday night) and we’re much more varied than you might think.
We’re not old.  We’re all different ages, from young twenty-somethings to grandparents.
Our relationships were varied.  We’re men, women, straight, gay, spiritual, atheist, widowed during marriage, widowed outside of traditional marriage, multilingual, hearing, deaf (we provide interpreters), re-married, engaged, happily single, mothers, fathers, childless, newly widowed, widowed for decades.
There are no qualifications that have to be met to join us.
Well, other than having a partner who died way before we thought he/she would.  That’s pretty much a “must-have”.
Camp Widow provides a place where we can gather from all over the world, and be with people who understand, people who “get” us and people who give each other unconditional support.
The last thing you need to know about Camp Widow?
We laugh.
A lot.
All weekend.
That’s probably something you didn’t picture at all.
If you’re widowed, or someone you love is widowed, please join us for a weekend of support, love and laughter.
And help us change the commonly-thought-definition of “widowed”.
We’ll be celebrating our 5th anniversary at the San Diego Marriott Hotel and Marina from June 28-30, 2013.
For more information go to http://www.campwidow.org.
You can learn more about Soaring Spirits International and all of our other programs at http://www.sslf.org.

One comment

  1. But this woman. This Angel. This woman with the warm and inviting voice – this woman who said a casual goodbye to her husband and then never saw him again – this woman who somehow found the way to rebuild her life – this woman who created and invented a place for people like me to go, where we can feel wanted and loved and not ashamed or shunned by society or forgotten about, even if only for a weekend – this woman who embodies everything good and everything real – when this woman stands up on a stage and tells a crowd of widowed people that hope matters, or that we can still have an amazing life, even if its not the one we wanted or planned – I believe her. I believe her because she did it herself. I believe her because she is standing there in front of me, and she is made up of all her pain and strength and fear and love and grief, and she continues on. I believe her because her life will always be complicated and wonderful and joyful and tinged with sadness and loss, and because she married again, to a man who not only doesnt feel threatened that she will always love her late husband, but who fully supports her calling to help other widowed people throughout the world. I believe her – simply because she is alive.

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