HAVE A HEART FOR FOSTER YOUTH?
GOT AN HOUR A WEEK TO GIVE?
YOU CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE IN A CHILD'S LIFE
The kids we serve through Sibling Strong are some of the most resilient, amazing kids we know, and every year, we find ourselves looking forward to the next.
At CTB WA summer camp, our all-volunteer staff members come from every age group and from all walks of life. What they share is a passion for the mission of Sibling Strong: Helping siblings maintain their relationship, heal, grow and create happy memories that have nothing to do with being in foster care.
Our CTB WA summer camp staff consists of fulltime counselors, nurses, safety officers, administrators and more than 100 day volunteers each year. Each staff member brings his or her own skills, talents and experience to help make the goal a reality.
Sibling Strong volunteers are key to the success of events, including fundraisers, and activities year-round.
READY FOR AN ADVENTURE?
SIBLING STRONG IS WAITING FOR YOU!!
We are searching for responsible, team-oriented, caring adults – people who can serve as role models and inspire the young people we serve at camps and events. A background check is required, including for virutal events.
VOLUNTEER OF THE YEAR
Big John Tilly
2021 Sibling Strong Volunteer of the Year
Camp Name: Big John
Day Job: Hospice Nurse for the Veteran's Health Administration
Role in camp: Lead Counselor
How many years have you volunteered on staff?
I have been involved for 11 years
What brings you back year after year?
As a former youth in care, I was separated from one of my sisters for years. At the time I had essentially “written off” ever seeing her again, and that left a terrible hole in me. Years later that same sister entered the foster system, and the state of Nebraska amazingly found a family that was not only able to take in 3 foster siblings, but they found a family that would take 3 teenagers. The reunification was something that I had only dreamed would happen. Camp to Belong and Sibling strong allow me to help bring siblings back together, throughout the year, so that others may not have the hole in them.
Best CTB WA/Sibling Strong Memories:
First: To swim into the deep end of the lake, campers and staff are required to pass a swim test. One of our campers was having a hard time passing the test and had tried several times during the week, but just wasn’t able to do it. During all camp swim I asked if he would like me to try and swim it with him. He said sure. So we got in and I swam right beside him during the test, talking to him, encouraging him, and keeping him pointed the right way. He passed his test, got his wrist band and was quickly off to play on the water trampoline. I don’t think it was me, I think sometimes we just need somebody beside us during scary moments and I was that person. As I was climbing the ladder, another camper came up to me and asked me to swim the test with her. So of course, down the ladder I went.
Second: For the first few years a camp my family group “always” seemed to always get the 9am swim on Thursday Morning. We do our swim in a lake, and 4 days into camp first thing in the morning our task was to try and convince 10-15 kids to jump into the “very warm,” - possibly even used the work “heated" - not remotely chilly water of the lake. Not an easy task, but usually after a few minutes of splashing around they start to trickle into the water and before you know it, everybody is having a great time.
Third: In the lake also. It was during all camp swim on Friday and I was in the shallow part of the lake and a camper was swimming a pool noodle around. I grabbed it, we locked eyes; neither of us willing to let go (cue western music here). I started walking backward and started moving the camper and ended up pulling her across the lake, she was smiling ear to ear. Her sister and brother saw it and thought they should latch on and they giggled and laughed. Before I knew it, I was surrounded by kids latching on to anything they could to be pulled by around the lake. It was a sight to see 10-12 kids getting pulled around the water like a train pulling a load of box cars (chugga chugga Whoooot whooo!).
What would you say to someone considering Volunteering?
There are so many ways to volunteer, not everybody is a counselor (though we ALWAYS need male counselors…hint hint), there are so many different roles from day event volunteers, to event planning, painting, building, prep, fund raising, supply setting up, game running the list goes on. Dive in, try something new. These kids, this camp, these activities not only have the opportunity to change kids’ lives but your life will be changed also.
Big John has the special ability to make everyone laugh, even if it requires a some silly dancing.
ARE YOU SOMEONE
— Enjoys spending time with kids?
— Like being part of a team?
— Is flexible and adaptable?
— Likes creative solutions?
— Likes to laugh?
— Enjoys being outdoors?
— Is 21 or older? (18, if qualified)
— Is a good role model?
— Able to pass a background check?
— Wants to give back
to your community?
WHAT OUR VOLUNTEERS SAY...
“I came expecting to change a child’s life, but I am the one who is forever changed.” – Rachel
“Every year that I’m here, I have more respect for what these kids go through. I can’t imagine spending my time off anywhere else.” – Sam
“This might be the best kept secret in foster care! In a world where so much heartache exists, it’s really nice to be part of a team that truly wants to do something positive in the lives of kids.” – Anna
“I grew up in the foster care system, separated from my siblings. I wish this camp had been around then. I will be back and I will keep coming back.” – John
WHAT TO EXPECT AS A FULL TIME CAMP VOLUNTEER
Fulltime volunteers staff our camps and live on-site in cabins during camp, where they serve as counselors, nurses, safety officers and administrators.
Can't be fulltime? We need daytime, event and behind-the-scene volunteers during camp and through the year! We love our team!
BECOMING PART OF THE SIBLING STRONG FAMILY
Volunteer staff members at Camp To Belong Washington become like family to us. We want to encourage, help and support you while you are at camp and stay in touch afterwards. CTB WA relies on its volunteers; our camps and other activities could not happen without you. And year after year, our campers have an amazing experience because our team of volunteers work together to make that happen.
A special diet can be arranged with our host camp if you have special dietary needs.
Volunteers receive an hour and twenty-minute break each day. The time can be used to check email, return a phone call, take a nap, grab a coffee or run errands off-campus.
Sibling Strong maintains a CTB WA Facebook page where volunteers can find information about the year's camp themes, join a conversation with fellow volunteers and meet team members before camp. Once we have processed your application, you will be added to the Facebook group.
HAVE A QUESTION ABOUT VOLUNTEERING?
PREPARATION THROUGH TRAINING
Our fulltime counselors and other key staff members participate in a mandatory pre-camp training designed to help volunteers gel into a team and learn about the kids we'll be serving. It’s a great time to connect with veteran staff members. Team-building is crucial, so attendance is not negotiable. Fulltime volunteers need to make necessary arrangements to attend.
Counselors sleep in cabins with campers. Typically, three counselors and eight campers are housed in each cabin. with boys and girls separated at night. Other volunteers also are housed in cabins. Our cabins are heated, include bunks with basic mattresses and a bathroom with a shower. Volunteers bring their own bedding, towels and toiletries.