7/15/09 Camp To Belong Helps Foster Siblings - 8 News NOW

7/15/09 Camp To Belong Helps Foster Siblings

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"Camp To Belong" is a place where siblings separated by foster care can rediscover their family ties;  where they can reconstruct shared memories and lost relationships with their brothers and sisters.

At camp, there is a staffer or volunteer for every two children...a formula that works for everyone.

Billy is a 9-yr-old Las Vegas camper getting to know his sisters a little bit better

"Well, I really love my sisters, and, uh, they always put make-up on, I don't know why they put make-up on, and they always change every 5 minutes," says Billy.

"...And I see a little bit of me in so many of 'em, same characteristics..." says Bryan Cole, a camp counselor.

One of the many volunteer counselors here, Bryan is a seasoned camper.  He first started coming as a foster child years ago... That one Summer each year, he says, saved him and his brother.

"We talk about the counselors, you know that really touched us and mentored us, and granted it was only that one week out of the year...I mean, I've had some of the best words of wisdom come from this camp, come from the veteran counselors at this camp<" says Bryan.

"Volunteers come from all walks of life, there's not one set prescription for volunteers, some are retired, some are from the military, some are from social services, some are teachers, there's stay-at-home mom..there's such a wide variety, but they have one thing in common, they all want to make this week more enjoyable for these youth," says Jeff Grandy of Camp To Belong.

First-year volunteer Mary Riley-Lowe says she's learned more from the kids than they have from her.

"I hope that they're getting something back from me, as far as it's Ok to be a kid, it's Ok to just unwind and cut loose, I'm sure they're just so use to structure and being told "no" all the time, and I'm the yes person this week," says Mary.

"When I look at my childhood comin' from a foster child...camp was my escape from reality... comin' back is my way to give back....you know, 'cause I was given so much, you know, I love it, this is a passion...this is...just more than words, I just can't really express," says Cole.


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