PLATINUM2024

Experience Camps

Childhood carries on.

Westport, CT   |  www.experiencecamps.org

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GuideStar Charity Check

Experience Camps

EIN: 26-2513136


Mission

Experience Camps is an award-winning national nonprofit that transforms the lives of grieving children through summer camp programs and innovative, year-round initiatives. Through compassion, connection, and play, we allow grieving children to embody a life full of hope and possibility. By amplifying their voices, we are creating a more grief-sensitive culture.

Ruling year info

2009

Chief Executive Officer

Sara Deren

Main address

136 Main Street Suite 206

Westport, CT 06880 USA

Show more contact info

EIN

26-2513136

Subject area info

Patient social services

Bereavement counseling

Camps

Population served info

Children and youth

NTEE code info

Youth Development Programs (O50)

What we aim to solve

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

More than five million children in the U.S. will experience the death of a parent, sibling, or primary caregiver by the time they turn 18. Grieving youth are more likely to endure mental health challenges, poor academic performance, and negative long-term physical and financial outcomes than their non-grieving peers. Left unaddressed, childhood grief can undermine a child’s future. But with the proper interventions and an ecosystem of support around them, it can lead to remarkable resilience.

Our programs

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

Camps for grieving children

We provide young people with a week-long, no-cost overnight camp that is clinically-informed. Our camps provide a space where children who have experienced the death of a parent, sibling, or primary caregiver can experience the joy of childhood while learning to navigate their feelings with others who have experienced grief firsthand.

Population(s) Served
Children and youth

“ExperienceCraft” is a customized Minecraft world built exclusively for grieving kids to give them a safe and supportive community to play and navigate their grief. It is geared to kids ages seven to 14 who have experienced the death of one or more people in their lives, and allows kids to virtually build, play, and reflect about their grief with one another. ExperienceCraft is now open every week from Friday-Sunday, 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. ET for kids to be a part of creating, connecting, and fun!

Population(s) Served
Children and youth

Join our fun and engaging scavenger hunt on Roblox (the social gaming platform with over 52 million daily active users!) that gives players of all ages opportunities to learn about grief, reflect, and engage with camp-themed activities. It nods to a “classic” camp setting but with more literal magic: think outer space + neon + rainbow fields!

Population(s) Served
Children and youth

Our oldest campers are invited to join our Leaders In Training program. Campers participate in a 2-year program that starts after their sophomore year of high school and gradually applies increasing degrees of life lessons, character development, grief processing, and leadership goals. Our emerging leaders mentor younger campers, model empathy and resilience, and learn that—even during the complexity of their teen years, when it can feel like nobody understands—they are not alone.

Population(s) Served
Children and youth

This weekend will include many of the activities that make Experience Camps so special, like sharing circles, campfires, and other fun camp activities, plus authentic connection with your peers in a safe and supportive space.

Population(s) Served
Young adults

GRIEF SUCKS is a digital content platform for teens that helps them navigate their feelings and offers a place of belonging. It normalizes grief by featuring celebrities talking about personal insights around grief, reviews of grief-related pop-culture content, teens candid stories, irreverent videos, and more. GRIEF SUCKS was created with teens for teens.

Population(s) Served
Adolescents
Preteens

Where we work

Awards

Eleanor P Eells Award for Program Excellence 2018

American Camping Foundation

CT Entrepreneur Awards 2020

CT Entrepreneur Awards

Sara Deren named as one of 32 nonprofit leaders who will impact the world 2022

Causeartist

Youth Advocate Award 2023

SCOPE Midwest

Gold Recognition in Human & Civil Rights, Community Engagement 2023

The Anthem Awards

Affiliations & memberships

National Alliance for Grieving Children 2023

American Camp Association 2023

Our results

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

How does this organization measure their results? It's a hard question but an important one.

Number of new programs/program sites

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Related Program

Camps for grieving children

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Increasing

Context Notes

In 2023 we launched new camp programs in Maryland and Maui.

Number of camps offered

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Related Program

Camps for grieving children

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Increasing

Context Notes

We have resumed our camp scaling plans with new boys and girls camp locations planned over the next several years.

Number of campers enrolled

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Related Program

Camps for grieving children

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Increasing

Context Notes

In-person camp was canceled in 2020; all activities were provided online. 2021-22 camps were held in-person, and we successfully returned to pre-pandemic levels of campers in 2023.

Number of volunteers

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Related Program

Camps for grieving children

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Increasing

Context Notes

Volunteers along with medical and clinical staff enable programs to operate safely, create opportunities for kids to laugh and have fun, and support their social-emotional growth.

Our Sustainable Development Goals

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn more about Sustainable Development Goals.

Goals & Strategy

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn about the organization's key goals, strategies, capabilities, and progress.

Charting impact

Four powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

Experience Camps is a nonprofit that transforms the lives of grieving children through summer camp programs and innovative, year-round initiatives. Through compassion, connection, and play, we allow grieving children to embody a life full of hope and possibility. By amplifying their voices, we are creating a more grief-sensitive culture.

We transform the lives of grieving children through three pillars: 1) Camp: We provide young people with a week-long, no-cost overnight camp that is clinically-informed. Our camps provide a space where children can experience the joy of childhood while learning to navigate their feelings with others who have experienced grief firsthand. 2) Community: We meet children where they are - in their schools and communities, and on YouTube, TikTok, Minecraft, and other platforms - to offer innovative content and experiences that normalize their grief and build new pathways to grief support. 3) Culture: Every one of us will experience grief. We’re helping to build a more grief-sensitive society by amplifying the voices and insights of the young people we serve.

Since our founding in 2009, we have served thousands of grieving children and have spent more than 500,000 in-person hours helping them navigate their grief and develop the coping skills needed to live happy, healthy and productive lives.

Our clinically-informed program with a distinctive peer-to-peer model is designed to help kids rediscover childhood, develop coping skills, and establish bonds with others who understand what it’s like to lose someone so important to them. We interweave camp programming with deep expertise and clinical content. Over the past decade, we have honed programs grounded in modern grief theories such as the Dual Process Model and Continuing Bonds. Those models show that kids grieve by oscillating between confronting and avoiding loss, and our programs balance process and play.

Our program utilizes more than 40 masters-level clinicians, along with 500 carefully vetted, well-trained volunteers who support our campers with compassion and immeasurable amounts of fun.

We have expanded exponentially since our inception in 2009, with camper numbers growing from 27 to 1,200 and new programs continually being developed to reach campers beyond the weeks of camp.

90% of our campers report higher feelings of self-esteem and less loneliness in their grief after attending camp. Our data also shows an increase in self-esteem, coping skills and quality of relationships with each additional year a child attends camp. This is one of the key reasons why we offer children the opportunity to return to camp every year, and more than 85% of campers choose to do so, contributing to the depth of relationships, progression through developmental phases of grief, and leadership growth as campers move into their teen years.

Moving forward, Experience Camps will continue its strong commitment to camp while continuing to grow “beyond the bunk” and creating innovative, scalable virtual initiatives (like current investments in Minecraft and Roblox) with the potential to reach more of the millions of American children grieving the death of a close family member.

How we listen

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Seeking feedback from people served makes programs more responsive and effective. Here’s how this organization is listening.

done We shared information about our current feedback practices.
  • How is your organization using feedback from the people you serve?

    To identify and remedy poor client service experiences, To identify bright spots and enhance positive service experiences, To make fundamental changes to our programs and/or operations, To inform the development of new programs/projects, To identify where we are less inclusive or equitable across demographic groups, To strengthen relationships with the people we serve, To understand people's needs and how we can help them achieve their goals

  • Which of the following feedback practices does your organization routinely carry out?

    We collect feedback from the people we serve at least annually, We take steps to get feedback from marginalized or under-represented people, We aim to collect feedback from as many people we serve as possible, We take steps to ensure people feel comfortable being honest with us, We look for patterns in feedback based on demographics (e.g., race, age, gender, etc.), We look for patterns in feedback based on people’s interactions with us (e.g., site, frequency of service, etc.), We engage the people who provide feedback in looking for ways we can improve in response, We act on the feedback we receive, We tell the people who gave us feedback how we acted on their feedback, We ask the people who gave us feedback how well they think we responded

  • What challenges does the organization face when collecting feedback?

    We don't have any major challenges to collecting feedback

Revenue vs. expenses:  breakdown

SOURCE: IRS Form 990 info
NET GAIN/LOSS:    in 
Note: When component data are not available, the graph displays the total Revenue and/or Expense values.

Liquidity in 2022 info

SOURCE: IRS Form 990

19.71

Average of 170.36 over 10 years

Months of cash in 2022 info

SOURCE: IRS Form 990

3.2

Average of 9.9 over 10 years

Fringe rate in 2022 info

SOURCE: IRS Form 990

15%

Average of 8% over 10 years

Funding sources info

Source: IRS Form 990

Assets & liabilities info

Source: IRS Form 990

Financial data

SOURCE: IRS Form 990

Experience Camps

Revenue & expenses

Fiscal Year: Oct 01 - Sep 30

SOURCE: IRS Form 990 info

Fiscal year ending: cloud_download Download Data

Experience Camps

Balance sheet

Fiscal Year: Oct 01 - Sep 30

SOURCE: IRS Form 990 info

The balance sheet gives a snapshot of the financial health of an organization at a particular point in time. An organization's total assets should generally exceed its total liabilities, or it cannot survive long, but the types of assets and liabilities must also be considered. For instance, an organization's current assets (cash, receivables, securities, etc.) should be sufficient to cover its current liabilities (payables, deferred revenue, current year loan, and note payments). Otherwise, the organization may face solvency problems. On the other hand, an organization whose cash and equivalents greatly exceed its current liabilities might not be putting its money to best use.

Fiscal year ending: cloud_download Download Data

Experience Camps

Financial trends analysis Glossary & formula definitions

Fiscal Year: Oct 01 - Sep 30

SOURCE: IRS Form 990 info

This snapshot of Experience Camps’s financial trends applies Nonprofit Finance Fund® analysis to data hosted by GuideStar. While it highlights the data that matter most, remember that context is key – numbers only tell part of any story.

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Business model indicators

Profitability info 2017 2018 2019 2020 2022
Unrestricted surplus (deficit) before depreciation $707,259 $1,464,142 $1,244,796 $1,655,936 -$614,501
As % of expenses 99.4% 122.9% 77.8% 85.5% -17.0%
Unrestricted surplus (deficit) after depreciation $706,022 $1,462,905 $1,244,796 $1,655,936 -$614,501
As % of expenses 99.0% 122.6% 77.8% 85.5% -17.0%
Revenue composition info
Total revenue (unrestricted & restricted) $1,419,056 $2,653,877 $4,193,980 $2,407,395 $3,872,048
Total revenue, % change over prior year 27.1% 87.0% 58.0% -42.6% 0.0%
Program services revenue 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0%
Membership dues 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0%
Investment income 0.0% 0.5% 2.3% 4.6% 3.8%
Government grants 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0%
All other grants and contributions 99.8% 98.9% 97.7% 95.2% 96.2%
Other revenue 0.1% 0.5% 0.0% 0.3% 0.0%
Expense composition info
Total expenses before depreciation $711,797 $1,191,621 $1,599,179 $1,937,117 $3,624,546
Total expenses, % change over prior year 33.0% 67.4% 34.2% 21.1% 0.0%
Personnel 47.7% 44.9% 44.3% 57.5% 52.0%
Professional fees 5.8% 1.6% 9.7% 23.8% 14.0%
Occupancy 20.8% 0.0% 0.4% 1.7% 1.0%
Interest 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0%
Pass-through 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0%
All other expenses 25.8% 53.5% 45.6% 17.0% 33.1%
Full cost components (estimated) info 2017 2018 2019 2020 2022
Total expenses (after depreciation) $713,034 $1,192,858 $1,599,179 $1,937,117 $3,624,546
One month of savings $59,316 $99,302 $133,265 $161,426 $302,046
Debt principal payment $0 $0 $0 $0 $0
Fixed asset additions $0 $0 $0 $0 $2,624
Total full costs (estimated) $772,350 $1,292,160 $1,732,444 $2,098,543 $3,929,216

Capital structure indicators

Liquidity info 2017 2018 2019 2020 2022
Months of cash 26.7 11.1 4.3 8.2 3.2
Months of cash and investments 26.7 30.7 30.7 35.2 16.8
Months of estimated liquid unrestricted net assets 28.7 31.9 33.1 37.6 16.1
Balance sheet composition info 2017 2018 2019 2020 2022
Cash $1,582,436 $1,099,820 $576,958 $1,325,263 $978,408
Investments $0 $1,949,016 $3,512,007 $4,364,967 $4,082,482
Receivables $173,615 $139,110 $1,603,792 $1,092,490 $404,859
Gross land, buildings, equipment (LBE) $3,712 $3,712 $0 $0 $6,411
Accumulated depreciation (as a % of LBE) 41.6% 75.0% 0.0% 0.0% 59.1%
Liabilities (as a % of assets) 3.3% 1.3% 0.6% 1.4% 4.7%
Unrestricted net assets $1,705,474 $3,168,379 $4,411,289 $6,067,225 $4,857,881
Temporarily restricted net assets $0 $0 N/A N/A N/A
Permanently restricted net assets $0 $0 N/A N/A N/A
Total restricted net assets $0 $0 $1,350,005 $667,709 $388,379
Total net assets $1,705,474 $3,168,379 $5,761,294 $6,734,934 $5,246,260

Key data checks

Key data checks info 2017 2018 2019 2020 2022
Material data errors No No No No No

Operations

The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.

Chief Executive Officer

Sara Deren

Sara Deren is the founder and CEO of Experience Camps, a national nonprofit that addresses childhood grief as a public health priority. The organization is working to galvanize a movement to reach America's 5.2 million grieving children, and has been recognized for its transformative no-cost, week-long sleepaway camps for children whose parent or sibling has died. Under Deren's leadership, Experience Camps has invested more than 450,000 hours with grieving children, with 10 program sites from coast to coast and a waiting list that is growing year over year. As CEO, Deren brings leadership acumen from more than a decade in the financial sector, including Morgan Stanley and Capital Advisors, and an MBA from Columbia University. She was named a “Patriots Difference Maker” by the New England Patriots Foundation and is a regular contributor to outlets ranging from Thrive to Fast Company.

Number of employees

Source: IRS Form 990

Experience Camps

Officers, directors, trustees, and key employees

SOURCE: IRS Form 990

Compensation
Other
Related
Show data for fiscal year
Compensation data
Download up to 5 most recent years of officer and director compensation data for this organization

There are no highest paid employees recorded for this organization.

Experience Camps

Board of directors
as of 03/22/2024
SOURCE: Self-reported by organization
Board of directors data
Download the most recent year of board of directors data for this organization
Board co-chair

Danny Sarch

Leitner Sarch Consultants


Board co-chair

Ashley Pelzel

Bridgewater Associates

Vishal Amin

Blackstone Growth

Bill Anderson

Anderson Holdings

Brian Beach

Beachside Strategy, LLC

Evan Bloomberg

UBS Financial Services

David Garlick

Pineapple Co.

Serra Falk Goldman

20 Fund

Kristina Jones

Guardian Lane

Eric Solomon

The Human OS

Aron Weingard

Weingard Wealth Management

Darren Berger

Kane Kessler

Arthur Rosenberg

Kane Kessler

Brian Klein

Rialto Capital Advisors

Emily Krueger

Uncharted Philanthropy

Mark MacDonald

Luxury Presence

Nicole Van Valen

Aetna, a CVS health Company

Rehan Choudhry

Chptr

Michael Goldman

Attorney

Hanna Song

Children's Hospital Los Angeles

Lisa Tortolani

20Fund

Joe Brown

DearDoc

Beanie Feldstein

Actress, Producer

Board leadership practices

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

GuideStar worked with BoardSource, the national leader in nonprofit board leadership and governance, to create this section.

  • Board orientation and education
    Does the board conduct a formal orientation for new board members and require all board members to sign a written agreement regarding their roles, responsibilities, and expectations? Yes
  • CEO oversight
    Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year ? Yes
  • Ethics and transparency
    Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year? Yes
  • Board composition
    Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership? Yes
  • Board performance
    Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years? Yes

Organizational demographics

SOURCE: Self-reported; last updated 3/22/2024

Who works and leads organizations that serve our diverse communities? Candid partnered with CHANGE Philanthropy on this demographic section.

Leadership

The organization's leader identifies as:

Race & ethnicity
White/Caucasian/European
Gender identity
Female, Not transgender
Sexual orientation
Heterosexual or Straight
Disability status
Person without a disability

Race & ethnicity

Gender identity

Transgender Identity

Sexual orientation

No data

Disability

Equity strategies

Last updated: 08/22/2023

GuideStar partnered with Equity in the Center - an organization that works to shift mindsets, practices, and systems to increase racial equity - to create this section. Learn more

Data
  • We review compensation data across the organization (and by staff levels) to identify disparities by race.
  • We ask team members to identify racial disparities in their programs and / or portfolios.
  • We analyze disaggregated data and root causes of race disparities that impact the organization's programs, portfolios, and the populations served.
  • We disaggregate data to adjust programming goals to keep pace with changing needs of the communities we support.
  • We employ non-traditional ways of gathering feedback on programs and trainings, which may include interviews, roundtables, and external reviews with/by community stakeholders.
  • We disaggregate data by demographics, including race, in every policy and program measured.
  • We have long-term strategic plans and measurable goals for creating a culture such that one’s race identity has no influence on how they fare within the organization.
Policies and processes
  • We have a promotion process that anticipates and mitigates implicit and explicit biases about people of color serving in leadership positions.
  • We seek individuals from various race backgrounds for board and executive director/CEO positions within our organization.
  • We have community representation at the board level, either on the board itself or through a community advisory board.
  • We help senior leadership understand how to be inclusive leaders with learning approaches that emphasize reflection, iteration, and adaptability.
  • We measure and then disaggregate job satisfaction and retention data by race, function, level, and/or team.
  • We engage everyone, from the board to staff levels of the organization, in race equity work and ensure that individuals understand their roles in creating culture such that one’s race identity has no influence on how they fare within the organization.