Deeply impacted by the September 11, 2001 terrorists attacks against her country, 15-year-old Whitney Buesgens witnessed the tragic events and aftermath. She noticed that even amid pain and destruction, fear and sorrow, Americans everywhere came together, supporting one another in their hope for a brighter tomorrow. Then, in May 2002, while getting ready for school, she watched as Katie Couric interviewed a representative of an east coast children's grief camp offering free weekends to the children affected by 9/11/01. Whitney had been a volunteer at her local hospice since the mere age of seven and had seen countless children affected by the death of their loved ones. Often, there was very little peer support for these children. She began researching and soon realized that there are many flourishing and beneficial children's grief camps on each of the U.S. coasts, but a significant lack of such programs in the Midwest.
With the encouragement of a grief counselor, Whitney solely pioneered establishing the first, independent, children's grief camp in the upper Midwest. She located a campground that would accommodate her needs, established an outstanding Board of Directors, created a camp brochure, and solely began the daunting task of raising enough funds to assure that her camp would be free to any grieving child, regardless of a family's financial circumstance.
Almost one year to the day after she first heard the news story about an east coast children's grief camp, Camp Love's Embrace opened its doors and hearts to grieving children from Minnesota, South Dakota, and Iowa. Whitney's dream had become reality and in doing so laid the path to healing for many children, both now and in years to come.
Camp Love's Embrace is now an annual event held each year during the month of May.