The foster families of Rio Grande Children’s Home experienced joy, fun and hope at camp this summer

Going to camp can be a special experience and families of the Rio Grande Children’s Home had the opportunity this summer to experience camp in every facet of the word. From water slides and rope courses to zip lining and more, the foster children at the Rio Grande Children’s Home experienced all camp had to offer at Camp Buckner in Burnet, Texas.

Camp Buckner has provided life-changing camp adventures for attendees of all ages for more than 30 years. The camp features cabin lodging, air conditioning and all the rustic charm of being in the Texas Hill Country. 

“Every foster parent engaged in the activities, created memories and supported each child as they tried new activities,” said Lori Alvarado, case manager at the Rio Grande Children’s Home. “Being able to share this experience with our foster children and give them a vacation most of them have never experienced is a sight to see.”

The families had four days of vacation at camp, and for many, this was the farthest they had ever traveled before. For the Esquivel family, going to Camp Buckner was their first vacation they have ever taken as a family.

“We’ve traveled as a family, but it was always with a purpose – like for work or doctor’s appointments. This was the first time our family really got to go and do the whole vacation thing," said Veronica Esquivel.

For the Rodriguez family, this is their second year fostering. The couple have been married for 30 years and raised three biological children, but after meeting three foster children through Belinda's work at a day care, they felt called to become foster parents.

“There was nowhere the children could go, so I took it upon myself,” Belinda Rodriguez explained. 

Initially this family was not with an agency and spent four months on their own, not knowing what foster care support was available. A volunteer for CASA introduced them to Buckner where they explained they have found exponential support and care.

“You have to have a heart for [foster care]. It’s something you have to want because you have to have patience,” she shared. “The best thing to me is when they smile, and I see happiness on their faces.”

The opportunity for these families of the Rio Grande Children’s Home to attend Camp Buckner provided the chance for the whole family to get a breath of fresh air and simply enjoy quality time together – without the worries of the day-to-day, sometimes hectic, schedules. And now, each foster family has memories together to look back upon fondly as their life together continues to grow and evolve.

“Each of them explaining their stories about what they enjoyed the most, and the way they would look at their foster parents with amazement at the different activities and watching all the children interact is a memory we will never forget,” Alvarado said. 

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