Camp Widow® is an incredibly unique experience for widowed men and women, having been described as a combination between a conference and a retreat.
It focuses on providing practical tools, valuable resources and peer-based encouragement for rebuilding your life in the aftermath of the death of a spouse or partner – all in a positive, uplifting atmosphere.
The program was created in 2009 by Michele Neff Hernandez who was a 35-year-old mother of three when her husband Phil was tragically killed in a cycling accident in 2005. Based in the United States, Camp Widow is currently held annually in California, Florida and Canada.
One of the features that makes Camp Widow so unique is that all events, including workshops, round table discussions and face-to-face networking opportunities, are all led and facilitated by widowed people, for widowed people.
Camp Widow Australia is supported by social-based networking events on the Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings, Friday and Saturday lunches and Sunday brunch. This provides an opportunity for attendees to form support connections in addition to the presentations and workshops included in the program.
The third Camp Widow Australia took place in Brisbane in August 2023. It was the first time the full Camp Widow program was offered in Australia and the event was attended by 200 widowed men and women, who travelled from around Australia and overseas.
We are thankful to the presenters, volunteers and every single camper for making Camp Widow Australia such powerful and memorable events. We look forward to seeing you at Camp Widow Australia 2024.
Camp Widow Australia 2024 will take place at the Hotel Grand Chancellor Brisbane and will include the following events:
We understand that Camp Widow® sounds like an unusual concept. While the topic of our event is indeed sad, we have found that Camp Widow® is actually a very inspiring and uplifting place. We laugh, we share dark humor, we allow space for lightness and a break from the reality of being in charge of all the responsibilities that were once shared.
Of course there are emotional moments when we talk about our loss which are both healing and natural, but the focus of Camp Widow® is on what lies ahead in our lives. It is liberating and validating to spend time with others who have shared a similar experience. This in itself means that you don’t have to wear a brave face or keep difficult thoughts and feelings to yourself. At Camp Widow®, we all get it!
The full cost to deliver Camp Widow Australia requires our team to fundraise more than $100,000 above the anticipated income from ticket sales. First Light is committed to making this an affordable event and is providing subsidised registrations, to ensure as many people as possible can access this wonderful program.
Therefore, due to a commitment to fundraising and sponsorship sourcing by our organisation and community, we are able to offer a subsidised registration fee of $330 per person.
Friday, 24 May 2024:
Saturday, 25 May 2024:
Sunday, 26 May 2024:
*Travel and accommodation are not included in the registration fee
YES, many widowed people come to camp having never met anyone else who is attending. Throughout the weekend, we will provide you with opportunities for meeting other people both individually and in small groups. We promise that you won’t be the only person attending camp alone, and by taking the risk and joining us for this event, you will meet people who get you, and very likely make friendships that will last a lifetime.
Camp Widow® is for anyone who has lost a life partner regardless of gender, age, religious background, sexual orientation, married or not married, and for those who have remarried as well. We’ve all lived through the loss of a life partner, and the energy created by this unique bond is incredible.
There have definitely been more women than men at previous camps, but we hope as word spreads about this program that not only will more men attend Camp Widow®, but that general support for widowers will continue to grow.
Prior to our first event in 2021, Camp Widow® had only been held in the USA and Canada. The team at First Light have worked with Soaring Spirits for many years to bring this event to Australia.
It is certainly one of First Light’s goals to continue delivering the Camp Widow® program to our community, however, due to the huge amount of fundraising and work involved future events will be assessed on a year-to-year basis.
We are conscious of growing the Australian Camp Widow® program at a pace that is sustainable and allows us to ensure that we offer a quality event. With those goals in mind, we continue to explore ideas and opportunities for hosting additional camps in other locations – please reach out to our team if you would like to discuss this further.
No. In fact, the cost of tickets to attend the event are heavily subsidised through fundraising, grants and sponsorships. This is important to us, as we want to make the event as affordable as possible for attendees.
To fulfil our dream of making Camp Widow® a low cost program, we are actively seeking reputable corporate sponsorships for subsidising our camp events. If you, your company, or someone in your circle would be interested in supporting the life-changing work of the Camp Widow® program, we’d love to talk!
Recognising the depth and diversity of the widowed community, First Light employs a very broad definition of the word “widow.” Any widowed person is welcome to attend our Camp Widow® weekends: married, never married, planning to be married, divorced at the time of death, people of all sexes and genders, straight, LGBTQIA+, religious, not religious, widowed people with kids, and those without kids, complicated or conventional relationships… anyone who has outlived the person with whom they’d planned to spend the rest of their life fits into our definition of widowed.
Information regarding cancellation, event changes and contact details can be found here.
We are a not-for-profit charity and every dollar we raise is put towards delivering our programs for our community. The generosity of our donors, volunteers (including our volunteer speakers and presenters) and sponsors is critical to the success of Camp Widow®.
There are many ways you can support us in delivering Camp Widow® Australia, including:
If you are interested in any of the above, please contact us at [email protected]