Heidi Legler, a former youth in care attended Camp To Belong with her 3 siblings. Heidi is currently a Registered Nurse and is an active member of CTB-WI’s Board of Directors. Read Heidi’s story here.
There are several messages that CTB-WI attempts to share with campers. One of these messages is that regardless of how long you are in Foster Care, it is only a very small portion of your entire life. This is an important concept to keep in mind because we want you as campers/siblings to understand that you should not just identify yourselves as “foster kids.” As you grow older you will realize what a small portion of your life this really is.
Another idea that this message gets across is that no one should ever allow just one thing to define who you are. We are each very complex individuals. You are a brother or sister, a student, a son or daughter, etc. Each of us also have traits that make us who we are, such as being funny, strong, quiet, smart, out spoken, loving, loved, etc. Each of us have things that we are really good at and things we need help with. Who we chose to become as individuals defines who we are – no one nor anything that happens to us can change that. Only you can be the person you are. Who that person is comes from the choices you make.
CTB-WI also conveys the message that you are not powerless. YOU are able to make your situation different. You can talk with your caregivers, social workers, guardian ad litems, CASAs, Judges, etc. about the fact that your sibling is very important to you. You may not be able to change the fact that you are separated from your sibling(s) but maybe you can. Talk with those around you to find out if it is possible to be reunified with your brothers or sisters. If this is not possible for whatever reason then do what you can to remain connected to them. You have the power to ensure you stay connected with your siblings. Being “connected” can happen no matter how far you are from each other. For example, if you are riding next to a stranger on a bus you will likely have little to no connection with them. On the other hand, you can feel very connected with someone who’s all the way across a crowded room who sees you and waves or simple smiles. You can also be connected to someone who you can’t even see just by thinking about them. Connection has to do with having a place in your heart for that person. It’s about holding that person dear to you.
Some things you can do to stay connected to your sibling include the following:
- Write letters,
- Send photos,
- Send pictures or other crafts that you’ve made (maybe include a special message within the art),
- Stay in touch using social media
- Come to Camp To Belong
“Never be bullied into silence. Never allow yourself to be made a victim. Accept no one’s definition of your life, but define yourself.”
― Harvey Feirstein
To learn more about the Wisconsin Youth Advisory Council, please visit their Facebook page: