Read LifeCamper Orion’s story…


Orion came to LifeCampUSA in 2022, having already gone through some very difficult life circumstances.  At the young age of 13, Orion had already endured great loss in his life. His father, a US Army Ranger, died serving our country overseas, and his mother succumbed to alcoholism shortly after. Prior to Orion’s mothers death, Orion was very close to her boyfriend, who also passed away from liver failure. Orion now lives under the kindness and caring protection of his Grandmother and GoldStar mom, Karen Clarkson.

Upon arrival at camp, Orion expressed feelings of stress and unsettlement with his life. At the young age of 13, he was already considering the next steps for his future, and was juggling uncertainties about what he wanted to do and where he wanted to go in life. At this age, having a father around would be so beneficial to a young man thinking of his future. 

After only 1 day in the Colorado Rocky Mountains, it became apparent that Orion had an abundance of energy, was a quick learner and an overall sharp young man. During group activities he stepped up to lead the rest of the boys in problem solving, and helped rescue an item in the middle of a fake molten lava pond with only a tree and a rope as tools.  We should also mention that during this activity, no one was allowed to speak.

But Orion also craved attention, struggled with his personal identity and life purpose, and thought he couldn’t be a Christian because of it. Despite this, he still actively participated in group lessons and discussions and at the end of camp he declared “this was the best camp ever!”

Orion spoke so highly of his dad, and constantly stated how he wanted to be just like him. So we weren’t surprised to hear that within 6 weeks of camp concluding, Orion enrolled in a military boarding school in South Carolina. What we were surprised to hear was that he had started attending a church, reading the Bible and professing to be a Christian!

This summer, Orion is planning on returning to LifeCampUSA for Camp 2.0.

Stories like these are what keep us motivated and dedicated to continue serving the sons of fallen heroes. As Orion’s grandmother Karen stated “He still struggles daily with teen stuff, but definitely now has the strength and tools to deal with it. Thank you for your role in this.” Fathers in the home are irreplaceable; nothing can fill the void they have left after their passing. Our mission is to help play a role as mentor, friend, or life coach, and to fill in some of the gaps we know young men might struggle with.