Frequently asked questions
What are Camp To Belong Washington summer camps?
Camp To Belong Washington (CTB WA) summer camps are camp experiences for brothers and sisters separated from each other by placement in foster care, relative care or adoption through foster care. Since 2009, some 1,100 siblings have been reunited at camp.
Why is Camp To Belong necessary?
The motto of all Camp To Belong camps is “Giving Siblings Their Right To Reunite.” Across our country, thousands of brothers and sisters are separated because they have been removed from their biological homes and we have too few foster, relative or adoptive homes to accommodate sibling groups. The sibling connection is so strong and so important to each child’s well-being that camp exists to help fill the void when siblings cannot live together. Here are some reasons that connection is so important:
Siblings are often our longest life relationship. Our parents typically die before us; our children after.
Siblings teach us how to relate to the outside world by laughing, squabbling, crying and living together.
For kids in care, siblings share the same memories and experiences and, in their previous dysfunctional family situations, often are the only people on whom they feel they can rely on.
So strong is the bond between siblings that more former kids in foster care search for their brothers and sisters than search for their parents.
When and where are Camp To Belong Washington’s summer camps?
Camp To Belong – Western Washington.
2020 will be the 12th year of the Camp To Belong Washington Summer Camp at Miracle Ranch near Port Orchard on Key Peninsula. The week-long camp reunites about 100 brothers and sisters each year.
Camp To Belong – Eastern Washington
We will celebrate Camp To Belong –Eastern Washington’s inaugural year with a four-day camp. The camp, from Aug. 14-17, 2020, will be at Camp Gifford on Loon Lake, about an hour north of Spokane.
Who is eligible to come to Camp To Belong Washington’s summer camps?
Any sibling group as described above with brothers and sisters between the ages of 8 and 18 are eligible to apply. The Western Washington camp has 100 camper spots available, and the Eastern Washington camp has 30.
Our average sibling group is three, and the largest sibling group has been six. The size of the group is not limited. Not all siblings need to live in Washington to apply. We have had campers from several other states who attend with their Washington siblings, but travel expenses are provided at caregivers’ expense.
Sibling groups may apply to either or both camps. However, campers are eligible to attend only one camp each summer.
Can my child attend a camp if he/she is on medications, has a special diet, physical limitations or behavior issues?
Yes. CTB WA operates with a nursing staff who distributes all medications. Dietary needs are noted on the applications and will be handled by the camp kitchen. Children with disabilities are considered on a case-by-case basis.
How does the application process work?
Applications will be available for both camps through the “Camper” link on the CTBWA website’s home page on Feb. 1, 2020. The closing date is April 15. Applications for children in foster care should be completed by the child’s case worker. Relative caregivers and adoptive families complete their children’s applications. Once submitted, the application will be reviewed and chosen by a review committee. Highest priority is given to applicants who have the least amount of quality contact with their brothers or sisters.
What must I pay for my camper to attend?
Camps are free for all campers. CTB WA fundraises year-round to make sure that camp happens! Grants, business, corporate and private donations, and partial scholarships paid through the Washington States Department of Children, Youth and Families underpin funding for camp. The only obligation for social workers or caregivers is to provide transportation for campers to and from Miracle Ranch, if they live in Western Washington or to and from Camp Gifford if they live in Eastern Washington. CTB WA happily accepts contributions from donors who would like to help reunite more brothers and sisters.
Is transportation available to Camp To Belong?
For campers who live in Eastern Washington, transportation to Miracle Ranch is provided; campers living in Western Washington must supply their own transportation. For campers who live in Western Washington, transportation is provided to Camp Gifford; other campers must supply their own transportation. Campers from Texas, Indiana, California, Oklahoma, New York, Florida, Montana and Idaho are among those who have attended. However, out-of-state campers also need to fund and arrange their own transportation.
What activities do the camps provide?
Camp To Belong –Western Washington:
Campers participate in the usual summer camp activities of swimming, boating, horseback riding, a ropes course and archery. The heart of camp, though, are activities designed to increase their sibling bonds, such as Washington’s signature events. These include:
Choosing and wrapping birthday gifts for their siblings, who open them at an all-camp birthday party. (We do this because so many campers are not able to be with their sisters and brothers on their birthdays.)
Having a blast at Carnival Night.
Dining and dancing at the festive Formal Night, an occasion at which campers dress in formal wear provided by an area organization and chosen by each camper to wear for the evening and take home.
Creating memory books and writing messages to their sibling(s) on pillows or quilts that accompany their sibling(s) home.
Getting a bearing on the future at Life Empowerment Seminar, for campers 14 and older. For younger campers, Youth Expedition, an enrichment program.
Sitting round campfires under the firs, where they can tell their stories and hear from others who offer encouragement and support.
Camp To Belong – Eastern Washington
CTB- Eastern Washington is at Camp Gifford mirrors the activities of the Western Washington camp in activities and events. Camp Gifford is about 50 miles north of Spokane.
Campers can apply to only one camp but can apply to either camp, regardless of where in Washington they reside. Camper applications for both camps are accepted from Feb. 1 through April 15. All applicants will hear back directly from the assistant director about their camper status during the first week of May.
Does CTB WA have volunteer opportunities?
Yes. We welcome and are grateful for the many volunteers who help make Camp To Belong Washington’s work in sibling reunification so successful. Both camps need two types of volunteers:
-Fulltime volunteers, who live at camp round-the-clock, are needed as camp counselors, camp nurses, safety officers and administrators.
-Day/event volunteers, who are needed for single days or activities during camp. Volunteers also are needed for reunification events and fundraisers throughout the year, as well as in various support roles.
More information is available on the “volunteer page” of this website.
All volunteers working with children at a CTB WA event must obtain a background check through Verified Volunteers to participate at a CTB WA event.
How do I volunteer to be a counselor?
Click on the link to the application for full-time camp volunteers on CTB WA’s home page. Volunteers 21 years of age or older are eligible to apply to be full-time counselors. College students 19-21 who are enrolled in majors with a career path working with children can also become fulltime counselors at the discretion of the directors.
Do counselors receive training and background checks?
While many of our camp counselors come with experience working with children, all counselors receive 20 hours of pre-camp training and team-building prior to each camp’s opening day. All CTB WA staff and volunteer counselors receive background checks through Verified Volunteers, which searches their records in nationwide databases and registries, as well as doing a state background check.
Does Camp To Belong Washington have other events to reunite siblings?
Yes. CTB WA has a growing roster of sibling reunification parties and events. These include Christmas parties and day events in both Eastern and Western Washington. CTB WA’s director and Board of Directors are working to expand the number of opportunities and locations for sibling events. All events are free for participants. Check under “Upcoming Events” on this website to see future activities and how to volunteer for one.
Is Camp To Belong Washington the only camp of its kind?
CTB WA is part of Camp To Belong International, which has 13 member camps across the United States. Australia also three camps.
The international effort began in 1995, when a former youth in care, Lynn Price, had the vision to reunite siblings. Until she was eight years old, Lynn didn’t know she had a sister. Now, through what she calls “the power of the ripple,” – like the rings created by throwing a pebble in the water – the Camp To Belong family has expanded, connecting thousands of siblings with each other.
Who operates Camp To Belong Washington?
CTB WA is led by its director, Deb Kennedy, who is one of the camp’s co-founders, and an active leadership team. It is overseen by a Board of Directors. Camp To Belong Washington is a private, non-profit organization whose purpose is to reunite siblings separated by foster or relative care and adoption, and to promote awareness of the needs for Sibling Preservation Foster Homes. Camp To Belong Washington partners with Washington’s Department of Children, Youth, and Families to provide sibling reunification summer camps to youth who have been separated as a result of foster care placements.