Camp To Belong Re-Establishes Sense of Family - 8 News NOW

Dave Courvoisier, Anchor

Camp To Belong Re-Establishes Sense of Family

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From the perspective of a child, entering foster care is measured by all the things you lose; your parents, your home, stability, security, and oftentimes your brothers and sisters.

Camp To Belong brings far-flung siblings back together for a weeklong summer camp. It re-establishes the sense of family. It changes lives.

Brandi and Bryan learned to lean on each other long ago despite the fact they haven't lived in the same home since they were small children.

Bryan is now 21, out of the system and on his own. But he wouldn't miss camp for anything. First came as a camper and now he comes back every year as a volunteer counselor.

His younger brother JJ is also at camp following in his big brothers footsteps as a counselor in training.

The youngest of the group -- 13-year-old Brandi - -is a bit on the shy side compared to her brothers but she quickly admits she wouldn't miss a chance to come to camp.

"It makes me feel like I belong because if you're with people that aren't in foster care, it's like they're not the same people because they have parents... We don't have parents to rely on and we don't really know very much of family type stuff," Brandi explained.

Over the years they've worked hard to stay connected. It's an important life lesson Bryan says he learned at camp to belong.

"I've come to give back everything that I was given. I feel this was a blessing that I had. If it weren't for camp I wouldn't be where I am today. I would be the person that I am today. I owe it all to camp, Bryan said.

During a special art session the kids make pillows for their siblings to take home. It's meant to be a nightly reminder of how each one feels toward the other.

Many of these kids' have learned to hide their emotions, afraid to share with anyone else, especially those who are closest to them.

The very reason camp organizer Cristine Lindholm decided to get involved. "I think what's most important is whether you live together or not. Nobody can take away the fact that you are a brother or a sister and that connection is yours and no one else can take that away," she said. 

Empowering other foster kids to take charge of their destiny is also the reason Bryan keeps coming back. 

Bryan continued, "My mom always talks about the power of the ripple. We were touched at one point in time and we're just another ripple. And we're trying to touch somebody else and hope that ripple just further expands across that lake."

To help keep foster brothers and sisters together, Palace Station is holding a foster family recruitment event. Click here for more information

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