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Addicted to Camp? Well it can't be all bad..

I went to Camp Widow East (Tampa) last weekend and well it was fun, sad, interesting, engaging and weird all at the same time.  You wouldn't expect a bunch of people who are grieving the loss of their person to find so much joy in just being with each other.  It was nice to be able to remove the mask for a few days and just be who I am right now.  I know this won't be who I always will be, nor is it who I once was but right now I am a person who is multiple shades of screwed up over missing a large portion of my identity.  At Camp I could be just me, rather than still trying in some ways to be 'us'.  Since no one truly knew me, there were no preconceived expectations or anything along those lines.  Dianne was, as always, great and hugged me less than a minute after getting to the group session on Thursday.  

I got home on Monday and started planning out my next trip to Camp, need to start socking away a little spending money now to pay for my trip but well worth it.  That said coming home was a bit of a let down (Camp Crash).  It was like being on crutches for a few weeks and then having them taken away suddenly and being told to walk on your own.  It is a little unbalancing to lose the support system that was all around you all day long.  I feel I was lucky in that I had my support group meeting the night I got back so I was able to go from 250 people around me down to 8 people around me before being down to just me again.

I did find that I was a bad camper though, I spent 3 days with people and only took home 2 phone numbers.  I am not normally an extrovert so my natural tendency is to sort of sit back in the background so this entire camp thing was about pulling myself out of my shell and I got far enough to gab with people and to have a good time but not so far that I actually invested in the relationship while there.  This is probably the biggest reason I have to go back to Camp, I need to take that next step and actually engage and invest in relationship building.  

Advice to anyone considering camp - Do it, but make sure you take the time to ask people you spend time with for ways of staying in touch.  Increase your social network of people who understand your current situation and aren't going to judge you for that.   Also go to as many sessions as you feel comfortable with, but try to take some time just to hang out with people.  I overfilled my time with sessions and didn't really take time on the side just to gab.  The worst that can happen is that you can find some folks you don't have anything, other than loss, in common with and you just move on to someone else.  

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Comment by judy on April 1, 2018 at 2:53pm

Hi Tony,

I remember you too at registration.  I think that Dianne introduced us that you were on chat on WV.  I've been to camp 10 times, and 2 new people I interacted with I forgot to get their information too.  It does happen.  Hopefully, they will be back again.  I'm planning on going to Toronto - its my wedding anniversary weekend.  What better place to be, right?    Nice to see you on here.

Comment by Barb2017 on March 29, 2018 at 11:49pm

And I saw your post on Facebook and I DO remember you! I am so bad with names, that was the beauty of the badges with all our information. Also thinking about perhaps going to Toronto...that would be a cool change for a Florida girl. 

Comment by Barb2017 on March 29, 2018 at 9:00pm

Tony, I was also at Tampa last weekend. I don’t think we met...there were a lot of people! I’m fairly shy and honestly didn’t start connecting until Saturday when I sat at the table full of Florida gals as mentioned before and the lights came in for me. I’ve already registered for next year. Please come again! 

I too am experiencing camp crash; today is rough, I keep tearing up and having to stop the tears. It’s hard to have your emotions so out of whack. I am starting to dread going to our local grocery store because they always seem to be playing meaningful songs as soon as I walk in! I remember someone at camp recommended sunglasses inside at all times, I may have to do that.

Comment by bayoured on March 28, 2018 at 7:37pm

That is awesome Tony. So glad it was a good experience for you. Now you have to chat more in the room as well. I see you there sometimes . Would love to chat. Thanks for sharing your trip with us. Gives me hope

Comment by DeniseL on March 28, 2018 at 4:32pm

Hi Tony, if I remember correctly you had Snoopy hooked to your name tag.  I was in the newly widowed group with you.  Camp was amazing.  Like you I tend to be introverted.  Luckily I connected with a group of women near me in Florida.  We' re already making plans for an outing next month and 4 or 5 of us have already registered for next year.  I also highly recommend attending.  To spend a few days with people who truly understand and are the friendliest most inclusive group I have ever met was so much better than I ever imagined.  But now it's back to reality and looking forward to next year.

Comment by MartyG (ver. 2.2) on March 28, 2018 at 11:52am

Thanks, Tony....if I ever get to a WV Camp (it would more than likely be the Toronto one), I will bear all you wrote in mind.

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