Of the more than 11,000 children in foster care in Massachusetts, almost half are separated from their brothers and sisters. Many live in different homes and are often miles apart. Now, there's a new camp that reunites these kids. For the first time, "Camp to Belong", a national program based in Colorado, has started a summer session in the Bay State.
Camp founder Lynn Price started the camp 10 years ago to bring foster siblings together, inspired by her own childhood experience. When she was eight years old, she learned she was adopted, and also discovered she had a sister she'd never met.
"It's not like we're finding brothers and sisters, we know where each other live... but now Camp to Belong gives them the opportunity to fight over who's going to sit where in the dining hall or share a birthday party, or say their nighttime prayers together... typical childhood memories," said Price.
Camp to Belong operates yearly in Colorado, California, Maine, and now Massachusetts. This year, it's at Camp Wingate-Kirkland in Yarmouth. It's run like any other summer camp, with silly songs, family dining, and bunk beds. There are currently 53 foster children and 60 volunteer counselors at the camp.
Sarah, 14, and her sister Alisha, 16, live an hour apart in western Massachusetts, but went to the camp in Colorado last year.
"It did bring us closer together, it made us think of a lot of things that we never thought about before, like who was our uncle," said one of the girls.
Price says that although these kids are separated now, they'll eventually leave the foster care system, and she wants them to leave with childhood memories of time together.
WBUR's Monica Brady-Myerov has more on the camp.
This program aired on August 24, 2005. The audio for this program is not available.