Male volunteers needed for Camp Connect in August - San Diego, California News Station - KFMB Channel 8 - cbs8.com

Male volunteers needed for Camp Connect in August

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SAN DIEGO (CBS 8) - It's difficult to imagine growing up in a different home than your sibling, but that's the heartbreaking reality for many foster kids in San Diego. That's why a four day camp, called Camp Connect is such a special time for these siblings. And now there's a call for male volunteers to help at the camp this August.

Nestled in the mountains of Julian, Camp Connect is an extra special three night/four day summer camp for siblings in foster care who live in separate homes the other 361 days of the year.

"They get to be with their siblings, they get to be with adults who understand what they're going through and just let them be kids," said Brian Piepenbrink. "They get to play, there's no clock, they can go swimming there's no special rules."

Brian is a volunteer at the camp and adds that the children couldn't be more grateful to the adults who make it all possible:

"That's one thing about foster kids a lot of people don't know is they don't take a lot of things for granted that other kids do. When you take them to the beach, or when they get to spend the night at a camp, especially with their sibling, they really appreciate it. Sometimes they're thanking me for hours and hours, and I say, 'I didn't do this!' But they really do appreciate it. Actually I think I get more out of it than they do."

While the county tries to keep siblings together during their time in foster care it's not always possible.

"We have over 500 siblings that are separated from one or more at any given time and so we know there's a definite need here to reunite our siblings," said Margo Fudge with San Diego County Adoptions.

With a ratio of about one volunteer for every two kids, Camp Connect is in need of about 50 volunteers for its upcoming camp in August, where women bunk with the girls in their cabins and men bunk with the boys.

"Our greatest area of need is men. Every year, it seems to be an area we struggle with having enough men to help support the youth who attend the event," explained Stephanie Trolinger.

Stephanie is the director of community outreach for Promises 2 Kids, which is the non-profit group that funds Camp Connect, in a partnership with the county. She says volunteers get to enjoy all of the camp activities, right alongside the kids.

"They get to do things like music therapy, zipline, rock climbing, swimming, slip ‘n slide," said Stephanie.

And the bonds that are formed between volunteers and foster children are often priceless.

"We know that children in foster care, in order to be successful, they need to be connected to their sibling, but they also need to know that adults care about them without having to care about them. S our volunteers are not paid to care about them, they do it out of the goodness of their heart and our kids know that," added Margo. "When we have events and kids run and jump in the arms of volunteers you know that you've done something special for them."

To volunteer for Camp Connect, you need to be at least 21-years-old. The application process includes a background check and some training to help you understand the dynamics of children in foster care.

Again, there is an urgent need for male volunteers, for the camp this summer, which will be held August 7 - 10. Please call 858-427-1106 during regular business hours, if you'd like to volunteer.

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