As Special Love began expanding its community of support to families coping with a pediatric cancer diagnosis, we initiated the sibling program (BRASS – Brothers And SiSters) in the mid-1990s to address the special needs of a patient’s siblings. Today, BRASS Camp hosts 110 campers at its week-long program and nearly 70 at its weekend program in the spring. BRASS campers also participate in family weekends sponsored by Special Love.
BRASS Camp takes place at beautiful Camp Maria on Breton Bay in Leonardtown, Maryland. It’s one of only a handful of camps across the country that provides a camp experience designed specifically for the siblings of young cancer patients. It offers a time for these siblings to escape the stresses and challenges of having a sibling with cancer, surrounding them with those who understand exactly what they’re going through. BRASS offers classes ranging from crabbing and fishing to cooking, outdoor camping, and crafts.
Special features of BRASS Camp include a chat room, where siblings can discuss informally and confidentially the challenges, fears, and concerns of having a sibling with cancer. Participation is totally voluntary. Tools are available to counselors to facilitate these chats, and a separate chat room session is offered to bereaved siblings.
Not surprisingly, most BRASS Camp volunteers are cancer siblings themselves, some of whom attended early BRASS Camps. This is driven by the camp’s strong Counselor in Training, or CIT, program. Campers aged 15 and 16 are eligible for the CIT program, which is a separate class at camp, focusing on developing teamwork and strong interpersonal skills in younger campers through role modeling.
Applications are mailed in late February to all eligible sibling campers in Special Love’s database. Click the button below to open a fillable PDF of the BRASS Camp application. Complete it (requires an actual signature, so you’ll need to print it out once it’s filled out) and return to us by email or by fax to 540-667-8144. Click here for the BRASS App cover letter.