I remember that summer five years ago when I climbed up into the truck and turned on the ignition. “Remember not to go to any drive thru windows!” the man at the rental counter shouted. I nodded, both hands gripping the steering wheel of the 24 foot UHaul truck I had just rented. Holding my breath, I slowly navigated the UHaul past parked cars and made my way onto the busy four lane road. Once on the road I exhaled. My hands were placed at 10 and 2 for optimal steering control. I had been driving for almost 40 years. This was my first experience with a 24 foot UHaul truck.
I headed east to Beaver Summer Programs in Chestnut Hill, MA. to pick up the program supplies that Beaver Summer Program campers, their families and staff had generously donated to each CTB MA camper: brand new sleeping bags, pillows, pillow cases, duffle bags, flash lights, batteries, beach towels, journals, pens, gift cards and more. The BSP staff and I loaded everything onto the truck and I made my way to the Berkshires.
At this point, the truck rental and journey to BSP is a beloved ritual. This year I handed the supply truck baton off to Leslie Hopper, a wonderful CTB MA volunteer. The truck is now sitting fully loaded in her driveway, ready to head west.
We love our partnership with Beaver Summer Programs! It’s the best kind of collaboration. BSP Director, Nat Saltonstall and his staff are educating campers of all ages about some of the challenges that their peers experiencing foster care face. The result: the campers and their families take action. They become engaged in a community service project that directly supports sisters and brothers who have been separated when placed in our child welfare system. Most of the BSP campers have siblings. They can’t imagine not living with them. A summer program like Camp To Belong MA that brings sisters and brothers together makes a lot of sense.
This year we are celebrating our 7th season of Camp To Belong MA. 100 sisters and brothers who were separated when placed in foster care have been invited to spend the week at a beautiful overnight camp in the Berkshires to create joyous shared memories. Over fifty volunteer counselors, ranging in age from 21 – 65, will spend the week with the kids who come from every region of the state. Together they will experience riding horses and banana boats, flying through the air on a trapeze and scaling a 40 foot climbing wall. They will also spend time singing, painting, making pottery, swimming, dancing and making scrapbooks. Most of all, they will enjoy spending time together.
Sibling Connections is the non-profit organization that hosts Camp To Belong MA. Sibling Connections also offers year-round sibling connection programming through a monthly program called Sibling Sundays. Currently Sibling Sundays serves sisters and brothers ages 8 – 20 in western Massachusetts, Greater Lowell and southeastern Massachusetts. Please consider becoming a Sibling Connections partner and directly supporting kids in care like Beaver Summer Programs. You’ll be glad you did!