Have you heard of Camp Catch-Up? It’s a special place where siblings who are separated by foster care placement can spend a weekend together canoeing, hiking, trying ropes courses, and more – all while rekindling their connections with each other.
While we can’t put these sibling groups back together in the same home, we can give them a safe, exciting weekend together to share memories, laugh, and build lasting new traditions. If you or someone you know would like to be a camper, it’s easy! Camp is 100% free, and we’ll even provide transportation to and from your nearest camp.
In order to qualify for Camp Catch-Up, campers must:
- Be between the ages of 8 and 19 (younger siblings accepted on a case-by-case basis)
- Have at least one biological sibling
- Reside in a separate home as their sibling(s)
Campers in Western Nebraska will attend the 4-H Camp near Halsey for the weekend beginning June 15, and Eastern Nebraska campers will attend the 4-H Camp near Gretna for the weekend starting July 14.
Camper Profile: Lazell and Finest, as told by legal guardian Karen Ashby
In April of 2010, we received two sweet and active boys to become part of our permanent family. They were 10 and 12 years of age. As we grew to know them, over the next few weeks, one of the things that stood out was their love for Camp Catch-Up and the memories this special camp created. Lazell and Finest had not lived together until eight months before they came to live in our home, so Camp Catch-Up was an opportunity for them to spend a stretch of quality time with each other in a very fun way. They played games and did activities together. The camp days were filled with just being with each other and the other campers. That summer they came to live with us, one of their younger siblings was now old enough to also attend. They made it clear to me, the one thing we needed to do was to make sure we filled out the application. Except for court every six months to check in with the judge, these siblings rarely saw each other due to distance and busy schedules. The ability to spend quality time was priceless.
Over the years, the younger two siblings became old enough to also attend and the excitement grew to a peak, when all five attended the first year. They came home from camp so very happy for the time they were able to spend with each other. My sons are now 19 and 17 years old, and Camp Catch-Up has been a impactful part of their lives for many years. Finest was a running back for his football team. In his junior year, they had a required football camp the same weekend of Camp Catch-Up. Finest made it clear to the coach there was no way he was going to miss being with his siblings. He wanted to play football, but spending time with his siblings was much more important. I’m sure his coach wasn’t very happy, but he allowed him to do so! I believe this is a great example of how important this camp is to my boys. They absolutely love the quality time they get to spend with their younger siblings.
I’m thankful for the huge amount of time the director put in in order to make sure all the siblings can attend. She has always been so friendly and easy to work with. I also appreciate the great patience and hard work the counselors display. Working with this age of children, with all their different backgrounds, is not always the easiest feat to accomplish. I’m sure they realize they are helping to produce some very happy memories for these children. Thank goodness they keep them busy with many fun activities, so they are constantly doing something.
The one thing that really touches my heart is both of my boys have the same display from Camp Catch-Up on their dressers in their bedrooms. Each year, Camp Catch-Up gives them a framed sibling picture. The smiles in each of those pictures say it all. (Usually the grins are from ear to ear!) They have kept every photo. Both of them would agree, these are treasured possessions.
I cannot thank Camp Catch-Up enough for the powerful difference they have made in their lives and the lives of their siblings. I know many great memories over the years will be cherished for their entire lifetime.