For his bar mitzvah project, Muirlands Middle School student Aiden Kleinman, 12, is getting the word out (and hopefully raising some funds) for Experience Camp, a program that provides children who’ve lost a loved one, with a free week of camp attended by others who’ve had a similar experience.
“I learned about Experience Camp during my own time at summer camp, when one of our counselors told us about his time as a camper there,” Aiden said. “It was really emotional and made me immediately want to figure out a way to help more kids learn about this unique program — partly because my cousins also grew up without their mom and I realized the benefits a program like this could have on kids in similar situations.” His mother notes Aiden knows three La Jolla children who have lost a parent in the past couple of years.
To get the word out, Aiden has been distributing fliers and letters about the camp. “I will be visiting all the local public and private schools, synagogues, churches, pediatricians, recreation and libraries to spread awareness, and hopefully, connect some deserving kids with a program that will help them heal,” he said.
According to its website, Experience Camp: “provides boys and girls whose parent, sibling or primary caregiver has died, with a program that helps build confidence, encourages laughter and allows them to navigate their grief through friendship, teamwork, athletics, and the common bond of loss.” Camp activities include sports, crafts and outdoor recreation; bonding activities; and evening entertainment events. This year, there will be an expected 500 campers at camps in Maine, California, Georgia and Pennsylvania.
The California camp is in Vista, and will run Aug. 6-11 for boys and girls entering grades 4 to 11 in the 2018-2019 school year.