Camp Widow® Australia

 

The first ever Camp Widow® Australia will take place in Brisbane on Saturday 16 May, 2020. This will be a one-day program, based on the same principles as the two-day event currently offered in the USA and Canada.

Australian Camp Widow® will also be supported by networking, social-based events, hosted by First Light, for widowed people on the Saturday evening and Sunday morning, to build on the comradery of the program.

Camp Widow® is an incredibly unique experience for widowed men and women, having been described as combination between a conference and a retreat. It focusses 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.

The founding directors of First Light have travelled to the United States to experience Camp Widow® a number of times and worked closely with event creator Michele to bring this hope-filled weekend to Australia so local widowed people can also have the opportunity to benefit from its inspirational, healing effects.

Widowed people have travelled from all over the world, to the United States and Canada, to participate in this secular, inclusive event and connect with the community built through this program. First Light is excited and honoured to host this event, the first Camp Widow® to take place outside of North America.

More Information

For more information about Camp Widow® and First Light's work in bringing this event to Australia in the near future, contact campwidow@firstlight.org.au

 

Camp Widow® - FAQ's

 

Camp Widow® sounds like a place to sit and cry. Is it really an uplifting event?

A:
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!


How much does it cost to attend Camp Widow®?

A:

  • Camp Widow program registration: $50
  • Camp Widow conference dinner: $30
  • Sunday brunch by the river: $25
  • All three events (whole weekend): $105

What does the registration fee cover?

A:

Camp Widow® program registration:

  • Access to a full day of presentations and workshops
  • Welcome tea and coffee
  • Morning and afternoon tea
  • Lunch
  • Camper welcome bag
  • Connections within our widowed community that you can build on and take forward with you after the event.

Camp Widow® conference dinner:

  • Buffet-style BBQ dinner
  • Connections within our widowed community that you can build on and take forward with you after the event.

Sunday brunch by the river:

  • Grazing brunch at a river-side venue with a range of cuisines on offer.
  • Connections with our widowed community that you can build on and take forward with you after the event.

*Travel and accommodations are not included in the registration fee


I don’t know anyone and am feeling very nervous about coming to camp alone. Will there be other people also attending solo?

A: 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.

There don’t seem to be many men at Camp Widow®. Is this program only for women?

A: 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.


Will you hold Camp Widow® in other locations?

A: Previously, Camp Widow® has only been held in the USA and Canada. The team at First Light have been working with Soaring Spirits for three years to bring this event to Australia.

As this is the first time we’ve hosted Camp Widow® here, there are many unknown variables, including how well-attended and viable this and future events will be. It is certainly one of First Light’s goals to continue delivering the Camp Widow® program to our community but this will depend, on some extent, to the success of our first Brisbane event.

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 are exploring ideas and opportunities for hosting additional camps, but have no specific plans at this stage.


Does First Light make a profit on the Camp Widow® program?

A: No. In fact, the cost of tickets to attend the weekend’s events is heavily subsidized 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 subsidizing 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!


Why do you hold Camp Widow® at a fancy hotel?

A: The Marriott Hotel chain has been a phenomenal partner in the planning of our Camp Widow® weekends and is home to every Camp Widow® event internationally. This level of hotel allows us all the planning tools we need, and has the space available to accommodate not only a block of hotel rooms, but also the numerous break out rooms our event requires.

The Marriott has an exceptional record of customer service, and also allows our campers a get-away that pampers them in body, while the weekend energy feeds their souls.


Do I qualify as a widowed person?

A: 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, LGBQT, 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.


How can I help?

A: We are a not-for-profit charity, entirely run by volunteers, 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:

  • making a donation
  • fundraising
  • support a camper by covering the registration cost of a widowed person who can’t afford to attend the event
  • volunteer at the event
  • provide corporate sponsorship
  • be an event presenter.

If you are interested in any of the above, please contact us at campwidow@firstlight.org.au

 

Camp Widow® - Schedule

*Times to be confirmed closer to the date

 

Saturday, 16 May, 2020
  • 7:30: Camp Registration Open
  • 7:30: Camp Widow® Bookstore Open
  • 8am - 9am: Welcome tea and coffee
  • 9am - 9:45am: Opening General Session and Key Note: Michele Neff Hernandez, Founder of Camp Widow
  • 10am - 11:15pm: Workshop session one (choice of topics, depending on personal preference and circumstances)
  • 11:30pm - 12:30pm: Workshop session two (choice of topics, depending on personal preference and circumstances)
  • 12:30pm - 1:15pm: Lunch
  • 1:30pm - 2:45pm: Workshop session three (choice of topics, depending on personal preference and circumstances)
  • 3pm - 3:30pm: We Have a Widowed Person for That
  • 3:30pm - 4pm: Afternoon tea
  • 4pm - 5pm: Memorial event and closing
Conference dinner
  • 6pm – 9pm: Conference dinner hosted by First Light Widowed Association, located at the Brisbane Marriott Hotel.
Sunday, 17 May, 2020
  • 10am - 12pm: Brunch by the river, located at a venue walking distance from the Brisbane Marriott Hotel.