Camp Connect

Hayden and Shayla

53 foster youth had a unique overnight experience at the San Diego Zoo’s Safari Park, getting up close and personal with exotic animals and spending a rare night together with their brothers and sisters.


Shayla (9) and her brother, Hayden (8) were thrilled to spend time together, admiring all the animals. They entered care in March due to severe abuse and neglect and have been living apart ever since. Fortunately, they have kept their connection strong by attending monthly Camp Connect events, such as this one.

Camp Connect reunites brothers and sisters who are separated and living apart in foster care, and this is one of the programs offered by local nonprofit, Promises2Kids. Through monthly visits, group outings, and a summer camp, siblings have opportunities to see one another and maintain their bonds. Promises2Kids is dedicated to creating a brighter future for foster children in San Diego County, providing the hope, support, and opportunities they need to change their lives for the better.

Even though Shayla is older, Hayden is very protective of her. During lunch when she was not feeling well, he made sure she was staying hydrated and eating. They explored the park all afternoon before enjoying a campfire with the group.

Afterwards, while their peers checked out their camping tents, Shayla and Hayden created a necklace and a keychain to take home as a keepsake to commemorate this special time together. Both asked each other what kind of pattern they would like, as they wanted to personalize the items for each other. Once both were finished, they exchanged items and gave each other the biggest hug. In the morning, Shayla and Hayden woke up to lions’ roars that echoed across the park before sunrise.

They were excited to walk away from the experience with long-lasting memories and personalized items to remember their time together.
With the community’s support, siblings like Shayla and Hayden will have the opportunity to reconnect this holiday season and create more memories to replace those they would rather forget.
To donate, volunteer, or for more ways to get involved, visit

author avatar
Esteban Villanueva