Lynn grew up in a foster home. When she was eight years old, she was shocked to find out that she had a sister. She and her sister formed a relationship when they were older, but Lynn realized what she’d missed out on by not having a sibling in her life earlier.
These relationships are crucial for everyone, but kids in the foster system face challenges in maintaining them. Siblings may live in different households. For a child in the foster system, who may move between homes and have experienced truly difficult family relationships, this is a huge loss. Keeping connection with siblings, even when you live in different households, can give kids a sense of security, confidence and consistency.
Camp To Belong
As an adult, Lynn became a court advocate for youth in foster care. Her “aha” moment came when she started volunteering at a children’s shelter. These kids were her. She was afraid that because of their life experiences, they’d believe that they would not amount to anything. Lynn had accomplished so much – college education, successful career, family – and they could too. But they needed support. She felt that sibling relationships could make a difference.
Lynn created that opportunity in Camp To Belong, a summer camp that reunites siblings in foster care. The summer camp gives kids a place to get to know their siblings and escape the outside world for a bit. The program blends traditional summer camp activities with ways that kids can connect with siblings, like scrapbooking and birthday parties. The camp creates a place for kids to get to let down their guard and to form relationships with siblings that last far beyond a week at summer camp.
After 25 years, the program has seen over 14,000 kids participate. There are summer camps in 14 states and Australia. Many of the Member Camps also conduct year round sibling preservation programs to keep kids connected.
Lynn Price: social entrepreneur
Throughout her life, Lynn has become an expert at creating connections between people. She worked for years in communications in the cable industry at places like ESPN and Disney. She learned how to engage people and what it takes to connect people. This served her well when she needed to figure out how to engage kids of all ages in the same program or when she needed to make a team out of volunteer counselors with a range of backgrounds and ages.
Lynn brings people together. She helps people see what they have in common and what they can do. Lynn is also always getting involved. Her family gave her a towel that says, “Stop me before I volunteer again.”
In addition to Camp To Belong, Lynn also helped co-found a charter school, has served as an expert witness, has spoken to legislators in support of legislation affecting youth in the foster system, and serves on advisory councils.
She is very humbled by accolades she’s received, among them the Points of Light Presidential Award and Oprah Winfrey’s Angel Network Use Your Life Award. Her mind, though, is always on the mission and the people. “I was doing what I loved doing with other people who were wonderful.”
Lynn also received the AARP Purpose Prize, which highlights the contributions of older adults. “It was so profound for me that disrupting aging is all about confidence and wisdom and walking your talk, using everything you have.”
We can all make a difference
Lynn continues to follow her passion. “You are never too old. Ask yourself, where is your heart? Now is the time you can do something.” Her advice to others is to start with a small step. She calls this a “ripple”. You send one ripple out and it makes more. Start with what you can do now.
Also, find other people who want to get things done. “I say no egos. Let’s collaborate. What I want to do is really about where do I want to be. It’s also about collective leadership. Hang around other people who are not afraid to innovate. Don’t just talk about it; do it.”
She is far from done. “If there are opportunities for me to mentor other social entrepreneurs and help founders and organizations, that’s what I want to do.” After people have spent decades in their career, they are positioned to make things happen and bring others up. Lynn currently serves on the Governor’s task force, Energize Colorado, which matches experts and mentors to small businesses and nonprofits trying to navigate the current pandemic.
Along with Camp To Belong and mentoring, Lynn is a thought leader. (See her website at www.LynnPrice.com.) She’s a published author and public speaker. “I get to mentor people and sit back and be the wind beneath other’s wings, raise people up.”
Talking to Lynn Price, you can hear how excited she is to take all she knows and help others become their best. She possesses the invaluable experience that comes from years of mission-driven work and she makes it clear that passion is ageless.
Sara Breindel, Changing the Narrative blogger
Read more about other older adults who are making a difference.
(Picture credit for cover photo to Teresa DeBroux, showing the Camp to Belong Georgia Family.)