Success in Every Aspect of Life

Author: Renée Monczynski

Growing Up and Growing Strong Together

TAPS programming is guided by the belief that hope and healing can be found when we travel the grief journey together, connecting with those who understand our pain. Over the years, it became apparent that specialized programming was needed to bridge the gap between Good Grief Camp, which is for children up to 18 years old, and our adult programs.

TAPS Young Adult Program came about after more than three years of conducting research, said Renée Monczynski, who leads the program. Research and surveys of our young adult and older teen groups resulted in the building blocks for development of our Young Adult Program.

Young Adults work together on community project

“What we found was that their questions and comments fell into five main pillars,” Renée said.

The five pillars upon which the program is built are:

•  Personal development
•  Communication
•  Career guidance
•  Financial stability
•  Service to others

Renée, the surviving spouse of Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Matthew Steven Monczynski and the single mother of a young adult daughter, said young adults may not have very different “grief issues” than children or adults, but in addition to their grief, they may also be navigating the often emotional transition from childhood to adulthood.

TAPS has developed an insightful, fun and intentional curriculum for 18 to 25 year olds. A Young Adult Experience may include a community service project; a high intensity outdoor adventure and a corporate day spent exploring career options. With practical life skills explored, the Young Adult Program strives to help each survivor create a well-rounded life full of hope, healing and growth.

In the past 3 years, TAPS has hosted over 100 young adults at Regional seminars, National seminars, and Experiences.

white water rafting

At the Portland Young Adult Experience, attendees white-water rafted down the White Salmon River as a team building adventure. The young adults cleaned up the trails of Mount Hood as a service project. In Louisville, the service project was to refurbish a playground in an underserved neighborhood and install a lending library. For the team challenge they completed a high ropes activity underground in a cavern. At both of these experiences they were able to learn tips to uplift and maintain physical, emotional, and mental well being while gaining skills in each of the pillars.

In 2019, TAPS will host workshops for young adults at each of our National and Regional Seminars. Additionally, there are four Young Adult Experiences planned: San Antonio in June, Seattle in July, Atlanta in September and Colorado Springs in December. Experiences will focus on growth, healing, peer mentorship and professional guidance.

meal prep

Each pillar of the program is thoughtfully and uniquely engaged throughout the week using workshops, hands-on activities, and intentional exercises. Personal development will be highlighted through learning life skills including meal prep, basic house maintenance, and communal living. Participants will be empowered in career development by being hosted by our corporate partners in a day at the office, tour of business, and meet and greet with executives. They will learn financial stability through basic budget and credit health classes by a corporate donor and work in teams to create and execute a budget for meals for the experience. Participants will coordinate with a local service organization to continue to be a living legacy through service to others; and this will also be showcased in the way they take care of each other during the Experience.

We want to set up our young adult survivors for success in every aspect of life—career, work-life balance and service,” Renée said. “Our program goal is to lay a foundation for not only this transition but future transitions for our young adults.”


By Renée Monczynski, the surviving spouse of Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Matthew Steven Monczynski

Check out the event calendar for upcoming events. For more information on the Young Adult Program, call our Helpline at 800-959-TAPS (8277) or email youngadults@taps.org