“When is camp? When’s camp? Is it time for camp yet?”
After hearing her children’s excitement about the Foster Family Camp at Camp Buckner, Kara Curfman, mother of six, decided to make a countdown calendar to keep track of the days until camp. The Curfmans have joined more than 600 foster and adoptive children and families in the month of July each year since it began in 2010.
Every year, the Curfmans anxiously look forward to another week at Foster Family Camp. They have created several family traditions leading up to camp – the annual countdown calendar, designing t-shirts and caravanning. They have the same route and routine for the drive that includes stopping at a park to eat.
And they make sure to carve out time to plan their act for the camp’s family talent show. The Curfman children love to work together, creating an act for the family to perform. So far, their favorite has been organizing a flash mob to the “Guacamole Song” dance, a goofy YouTube song about food.
Foster Family Camp brings foster families together in a special way. The flexible environment creates space for parents to connect about the joys and hardships involved in foster care and adoption, while the children freely participate in camp activities. Even though the families don’t necessarily see each other during the year, the strong bonds allow the friendships to pick up right where they left off the previous summer. The children are always excited to get reacquainted with their friends from last year.
Amidst all the fun, the foster families know there also will be moments of struggle.
“With foster children who have been neglected, abused or exposed to drugs, there are a lot of behaviors, a lot of triggers – your normal becomes a new normal as you work through these things,” Kara explained. “Going places and on vacation is very hard because of the transitions. With Foster Family Camp, you still have those transitions, but you know there will be familiar faces to support you.”
Foster Family Camp provides a safe place for families to bring their children who might have unique struggles from their past. All the families understand the circumstances of fostering and adoption. Kara recalled a time when one of her children had a meltdown and several moms came up to her and asked what they could do to help. This action contrasted the public’s common reaction where people stared at or videoed the scene.
“You feel like you have a village there,” Kara said. “You may have a child with behaviors that are not ‘normal’ but the other families understand that and they can help you not feel so isolated and alone.”
At Foster Family Camp, “you meet other families that are going through the same thing and suddenly you are like, ‘oh my goodness, now I can ask you these questions and how you are handling these things.’ Just knowing somebody is walking the same road as you is so encouraging,” Kara said.
Written by Kayln Grider, a summer intern with Buckner communications.