Camp Hometown Heroes provides children of fallen U.S. service members free week-long camp with help from Steve Stricker American Family Insurance Foundation grant
The PGA Tour Champions American Family Insurance Championship returned in 2022 with no restrictions and raised over $2.2 million for charitable organizations. The Steve Stricker American Family Insurance Foundation continues to make an impact in our communities by helping charitable organizations do their important work. As we lead up to the 2023 event, we highlight one of those organizations.
United States service members face the harsh reality of their jobs; that they may be injured on duty or they may not come home at all, leaving behind grieving family members. According to the National Military Family Bereavement Study, 16,000 active-duty service members died between 2001 and 2011. Camp Hometown Heroes was created to help heal the pain and loss these families experience.
A haven for healing
Camp Hometown Heroes is a nonprofit organization based in Grafton, Wisconsin, with the mission of providing healing, support and recognition to the military community and its children and families. They serve children ages seven to 17 years old who have lost a loved one who served our country. While their lives are forever changed, camp is a place of healing and hope for them.
While at camp, kids participate in classic activities like swimming, rock climbing and archery that allow them to have fun and unwind. Throughout the week they bond with other kids like them who have lost a loved one, supporting each other through the healing process. Experienced grief counselors are on staff to participate in activities that help participants understand their emotions and teach them how to move forward.
“Being able to relax and have fun enables kids to let their guard down a little,” said Deb Paschke, director of outreach at Camp Hometown Heroes. “A lot of these children have not dealt with their loss, maybe even for years, but they feel so comfortable here they are able to open up. The grief therapy aspect of camp is so important because it has a ripple effect on the entire family. The child can go home and have a positive effect on their parents or siblings.”
A national impact
Camp Hometown Heroes began in 2013, hosting at least 200 kids each year, with many returning to become counselors once they turn 18. During the last 10 years, they’ve been able to serve families from 40 states, including Alaska and Hawaii, and one foreign country. Thanks to funding from organizations like the Steve Stricker American Family Insurance Foundation, Camp Hometown Heroes has been able to grow their camp, adding a third week in 2022.
“We’re so thankful for the support from the Steve Stricker American Family Insurance Foundation,” said Paschke. “Receiving this grant means we can continue to help children and families in need, creating a supportive community for our U.S. service member families.”
Camp Hometown Heroes’ impact
- “I don’t know how to heal their wounds because mine are so deep that I struggle daily to hold it together. I just want you to know how much I appreciate all you do for my family. Thank you for mending my babies because I can’t.”
- “I never met a group that understands me more and who I have an unbreakable bond with.”
- “Camp made me into the person I am today. I came to camp five years ago as an angry, distant and emotionally distraught 13-year-old. Camp gave me a place where I could finally be myself, a place where I could make lifelong friends and a place I could be a kid for once. This camp took that scared and angry girl and molded me into a loving, compassionate person I am today.”
Learn more about Camp Hometown Heroes and their positive impact by visiting their website.
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About Steve Stricker American Family Insurance Foundation
Established in 2013 when Steve Stricker became a brand ambassador for American Family Insurance, the mission of the foundation is to inspire and develop strong families and healthy kids so they can pursue their dreams. The foundation supports organizations that produce tangible outcomes that align with this mission.
About the American Family Insurance Championship
The American Family Insurance Championship was created in 2016 by American Family Insurance, PGA TOUR Champions and PGA player and Wisconsin native Steve Stricker. Since its inception, the championship and associated events have raised nearly $15 million for the American Family Children’s Hospital and other charities. The 2023 championship will be held June 3 -11 at the University Ridge Golf Course in Madison, Wisconsin. For more information: Web: amfamchampionship.com; Twitter: @AmFamChamp; Facebook: American Family Insurance Championship; Instagram: amfamchampionship. #AmFamChamp