Hiking. Fishing. Kayaking. Staying up late. Making s’mores around a campfire and singing camp songs. Unplugging from technology to reconnect with nature.
While these activities are the same ones offered at many summer camps across the country, Camp Catch Up is unique.
Offered in 3 locations across the state—Fremont (May 31-June 2), North Platte (June 14-16) and the one I volunteered with, Gretna (August 9-11)—Camp Catch Up allows dozens of children and youth who have been separated from their siblings by foster care or adoption to reconnect with each other for an exciting long weekend. The camp is staffed by nurses and volunteer counselors from various professions and experiences with the child welfare system (some of whom were even former campers), joined by the same desire to make this weekend meaningful for our campers. After the opening ceremony, where every camper either received a certificate (commemorating their multiple years of camp attendance) or a medal (awarded to first timers for taking the plunge), the activities began—arts and crafts for some, wall-climbing and high wires for others—and continued throughout the weekend.
No matter the specific break-out, all of the siblings did the activities together because Camp Catch Up understands that more important than the food, excursions and games, this camp gives the campers an opportunity to bond and do “kid things” with their brothers and sisters—some of whom only get together once a year at this very same camp.
Camp Catch Up wasn’t only special for the campers. We counselors were also enriched just because we were there. One of my fellow counselors, who was terrified of heights, wanted to try the zip line. A few of the campers got together and encouraged her to participate. These campers also showed the counselor how to put on the harness and hard hat and then stood behind her as spotters to catch her, should she fall. When the counselor made it to the end of the zip line, the campers ran over to greet her with high fives and “I KNEW you could do it!”s.
I knew that all of the counselors volunteered to help create positive memories for our campers. What I didn’t expect was that our campers would create positive memories for us.
I can’t wait until next summer!