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Vote Sara Deren

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Experience Camps



Sara Deren



Founder & Chief Experience Officer



Experience Camps


City/Town where Organization Located



City/Town of Residence - this is for media placement



Company/organization description (<500 characters)

Experience Camps are free one-week camps for boys and girls who have experienced the death of a parent, sibling or primary caregiver. It's a place where kids can laugh, cry, play, create, remember the person who died, or forget the grief that weighs them down. It's a place where they can feel "normal", because everyone there has been through something similar and understands what it's like to lose someone important to them.


Tell us about the entrepreneurial milestones you accomplished in 2019 (<500 characters) e.g., patents received, growth rate, and successful MVP, trial, or exit, etc…

Our program began in 2009 with 27 campers at 1 camp location in Maine. In 2019, we served over 700 campers from 32 states and 4 countries at 5 camp locations. We had 29% growth in program participants. In 2020, we are projecting over 1,000 campers, with a 35% growth rate. We opened our fifth location in Michigan, serving children from Chicago and Detroit. Our fundraising revenue increased by 46% in 2019, year-over-year. We also increased our staff capacity by 100% (going from 4 FTEs to 8 FTEs) to accommodate ongoing growth.


What type of entrepreneur are you? Scaling Company: regional, national, or global business focus and greater than $1,000,000 in revenue in 2019; Scalable Venture: regional, national, or global business focus and less than $1,000,000 in revenue in 2019; Main Street: local business focus;Social Good: social enterprise or nonprofit focus

Scaling, national, non-profit organization: Started with 1 camp location in 2009. Now we have 5 locations around the country with plans to accelerate our growth over the next 5 years. We serve grieving children from 32 states and 4 countries, including many from CT. Revenue in 2019 was ~$3.8 Million.


Student entrepreneur: Are you a student and younger than 25 as of December 31, 2019? YES or NO



What CT entrepreneur ecosystem resources (spaces, programs, events, schools, etc.) have helped you succeed? (<500 characters)

We have seen an incredible response from our local community, primarily in our signature Day of Champions event, which brings together 400 local residents, adults and children, for a day of family fun and competitive challenges to raise money and awareness for Experience Camps. Everyone from Camp Mahackeno, to local businesses who sponsor the event, to a powerhouse committee of volunteers that plan and execute the event, to local news outlets (Channel 12 and Dan Woog) have given us increased visibility across all platforms. We occupy office space in downtown Westport and feel very connected to the Main Street initiatives to promote business growth in this area. Our (soon-to-be new mom) COO even recently started a call to action to provide women with a downtown location for pumping!


What people are saying about Sara Deren ...

 Sara Deren is the Founder and CEO of the nonprofit organization Experience Camps (www.experience.camp). Experience Camps provides free one-week bereavement camp programs for children who have a parent, sibling or primary caregiver who has died. She founded the organization in 2009. The first summer started out with only 27 boys at the program in Maine. In 10 years, she has grown the organization to five states across the US (with campers coming from 32 states and 4 countries). ExCamps is based in Westport CT. In 10 years, she has grown the organization from a one-person shop to 8 full-time employees and 20 part-time staff. In 2020, she will have achieved a huge milestone - serving over 1,000 campers at our 10 programs this summer. Thanks to Sara, she has created a highly-scalable model that has seen the waitlist for her programs grow by 400% with plans to grow the program by 147% over the next five years to accommodate as many children as possible.  

Alexis Radwan





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