Camp To Belong Washington - A sanctuary and a sacred place
In the quiet of the closing campfire on Friday night of 2019's Camp To Belong, Jason captured the happiness of spending the week with his sister in this place of safety and refuge.
”I don’t get to see my sister very often,” he told the other 160 campers, counselors and volunteers who surrounded him in a community of love. “This camp is like a sanctuary for us to hang out. This was just amazing.”
“This is a sacred place,” echoed a former social worker, as she walked into the dining hall with campers earlier in the week. She once sent a troubled youth on her caseload to camp. He returned completely transformed.
“For the last week, I felt like I had 100 younger siblings,” said counselor Brittany, one of more than 50 fulltime counselors who pour their passion and energy into these kids.
“I love you no matter what," one sister wrote to her brother on a sibling pillow each sibling makes for a brother or sister to take home
as a reminder of their bond. “Even though we are separated, you are always in my mind/heart.”
CTB WA campers are survivors. In fact, the 2019 theme was “Survivor,” borrowed from the tv show but reflecting their young lives.
Counselors often speak at campfire about the inspiration they receive from the courage and resilience exhibited by these young people, who find themselves living without their closest family and sometimes with people unknown to them. Many face new families, new schools and new communities; they march into an unknown future with no control over their lives.
How many of us could become such survivors?
“You have filled my heart,” said first-time counselor Alice, who is a teacher.
That time you were singing “Lean On Me” with 158 other people after Carnival Night, but the only person you’ll remember was the sister you hadn’t seen for two years.
Photo by Camp Director Deb Kennedy