by Emily Smith

I couldn’t imagine a life without my siblings. Although they weren’t my best friends from my early stages of life, I have come to love and appreciate them for the people they are. Unfortunately, there are children who grow up without sibling support in foster homes across the United States. Lynn Price, a former foster child, has changed this for many children. In a New York Times article she stated, “I realized that my sister and I had no memories of when we were kids. There were no memories of birthday parties, sharing clothes, helping each other with homework, or talking about boys. I thought about the kids who will miss out on something that is so critical to their growth and feelings of unconditional love.”

Reading her account moved me to understand why she took action. My sister and I shared closets, stealing each other’s clothes; this often resulted in yelling at each other when we got home from school and had realized that one of us had taken the other’s favorite shirt and unwittingly spilled something on it. These confrontations were all part of the bonding experience; although we hated each other sometimes, we could not stop loving each other. The experience of growing up together usually ensures a lifelong connection of friendship between siblings.

To help establish that connection between siblings who aren’t able grow up together, Price founded “Camp To Belong” in 1995, which reunites siblings who have been separated in foster care. Statistics show that 75 percent of children placed in foster care are separated from their siblings. “Camp To Belong” is described as “an international non-profit organization dedicated to reuniting siblings placed in separate foster homes and other out-of-home care for events of fun, emotional empowerment and sibling connection.” There are currently nine of these camps that reunite foster siblings. During this week, siblings are able to get to know each other; they make crafts and are given gift cards to buy each other birthday presents. They also ask each other questions about favorite sports and hobbies.

Many of us are lucky enough that we don’t have to ask those questions. We are able to grow up with our siblings in the same household with our parents. For those who aren’t as fortunate, Lynn Price has created an amazing organization to benefit the relationships of siblings. Too often I take my siblings for granted; reading about “Camp to Belong” gave me perspective and a deeper gratitude for the experiences I shared with my siblings.

You can read Lynn Price’s autobiography here: http://www.lynnprice.com/biography.html

Or visit Camp to Belong’s official website: http://camptobelong.org/