Submitted by Camp Belong
As we face the coronavirus pandemic, family relationships have become an increasingly important focus and source of strength in our lives. On April 10, the country will honor the particular bonds between brothers and sisters by celebrating Siblings Day.
On Siblings Day, we honor what often are our oldest friends and earliest companions, our brothers and sisters, say leaders of the sibling connection organization Camp To Belong. Siblings Day was started by Claudia Evart of New York, who lost two siblings at a young age and chose April 10 to honor them and all siblings. Although it is not yet a national holiday, it is increasingly set aside as a time to reconnect with our siblings and to remember the important role they play in our lives.
The mission of remembering and connecting our siblings is at the heart of Camp To Belong Washington, a Member Camp of Camp To Belong International, an organization that reunites brothers and sisters separated due to placement in foster, relative or adoptive care. Washington’s summer camps and year-round sibling-connect events are designed to strengthen the sibling bonds frayed by separation. The Washington chapter is one of 14 nationwide; others operate in Australia.
The importance of sibling bonds is hard to overestimate, said Deb Kennedy, director of Camp to Belong Washington and mother of eight, including two groups of adopted siblings.
“We travel through life with our brothers and sisters,” Kennedy said. “Our siblings often are our best friends. It is with them that we share experiences, build traditions, relive family memories and provide one another with support and comfort during good times and bad.”
Camp To Belong International Founder Lynn Price, of Denver, Colo., started the organization 25 years ago. When she was 8 and in foster care, she discovered she had a sister she never knew. She vowed then to do something with her life that would change that experience for other separated siblings. She not only built a close relationship with her own sister but also founded an annual Camp program to bring separated siblings together to reconnect, heal and build happy memories together. Last year, Price published an anniversary edition of “Real Belonging, Give Siblings Their Right to Reunite,” which features her story and sibling bonds.
Price says spending time with their brothers and sisters not only helps mend broken bonds experienced by children placed in care, but also lets them know that despite their early life experiences, they can write their future life stories – and can write those stories with their siblings.
While many grown-up siblings won’t be able to celebrate together this year, both Price and Kennedy urge brothers and sisters to reach out to each other on Siblings Day. Phone, virtual chat, send flowers or a card, exchange old family photos. In this time of virus-related stress and trauma, it is perhaps more important than ever. Social distancing does not have to mean emotional distancing.
“Strong families help build strong communities and now, more than ever, it is time to keep those sibling connections strong and our communities whole,” Price said.