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Sound Off!

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WisconSibs conducts many different activities during Sibshops, like the “Sound Off” activity. This activity has the child answer a few questions. This is not just a great writing activity, but also a great conversation to have with your kids.

The activity goes like this:

  • If I could tell…. (my parents, my friends, my teacher, the whole world)
  • Just ONE THING that is …. (good, so-so…)
  • About having a sib with special needs it would be….

Some of the examples we received were:

  • If I could tell my friends,
    • Just one thing that is good
    • About having a sib with special needs it would be: that I get to be noticed from her and I get to come here.
  • If I could tell The whole world
    • Just one thing that is good
    • About having a sib with special needs it would be: I ALWAYS have a friend.
  • If I could tell my parents
    • Just one thing that makes me angry about having a sibling with a disability, it would be:
    • The amount of attention my sibling gets even if I know the reason why.
  • If I could tell my parents
    • Just one thing that is not-so-good
    • About having a sib with special needs it would be: I feel like I have to make them proud enough to fill the void of my sibling not doing so well in school.

Parents, this would be a great activity to do with your children! Some sibs may not want to share a not-so-good moment because they understand that you are busy and you don’t need more stress. These questions can bridge the gap. Also, sound offs can create a great atmosphere of positivity! Give it a try and let us know how it went for you.

What do the Counselors get out of SibDays?

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Counselors at SibDays

The counselors at Sibdays of Summer truly set the tone for the week. Camp is an amazing experience not only for the campers, ages 6-12, attending but for the teen counselors as well. They develop relationships with the kids and with one another.

At the end of camp we ask the parents and counselors to fill out a survey to get feedback. One of the questions that we asked our counselors is what they felt they got out of volunteering for the week.

Multiple answers reflected on what WisconSibs is truly about, relationships with other siblings. They form a special bond with the other counselors and friendships that truly will last through all their life adventures. The counselors also said how great it was being able to work with the kids and seeing their growth throughout the week and how amazing it felt at the end, knowing they were apart of something like this.

Many noticed how their own leadership skills grew from participating with our Teen Sib Leadership training and then the week of SibDays. The counselors had a great week and we are so grateful for all of their hard work and dedication!

How do you feel you benefited from being a volunteer counselor at SibDays?

“It showed me how unique the kids are and that they each have their own ways of learning.” (age 14)
“I got to spend time with kids other than my siblings and have fun with them.” (age 14)
“I got better.” (age 14)
“I had fun but took charge.” (age 15)
“I have met some of my best friends from SibDays.” (age 15)
“The feeling of making a difference and helping the kids.” (age 16)
“The feeling after the week is just amazing, knowing you contributed.” (age 16)
“I feel like I am more responsible.” (age 16)
“I love being a counselor for kids. It’s so much fun!” (age 17)
“I was able to meet new people and also practice my leadership skills.” (age 17)
“It gives me a sense of purpose.” (age 17)
“Connecting with others and helping campers.” (age 17)
“I feel that I made an impact on the kids and know more about myself.” (age 19)
“Knowing other people like you are out there and making a difference in someone’s life.” (age 21)


Meet Jenni!

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If you saw our quarterly newsletter, SibNews July-September 2017, you met Jenni. Her older brother, Mike, has been a huge part of her life, including her career decision: special education teacher. What does she want every sibling to know? Find out Jenni’s story in this short video. Then be one of the first to subscribe [read more]

Karenna the Intern Says Goodbye

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Hello! My name is Karenna Lillo and I am proud to be a WisconSib! My favorite food is chicken pho and love the color purple. I have been involved with WisconSibs since the early age of 6. I remember attending many SibDays of Summer as a camper and counselor. I always look forward to Curt’s Carnival! My brother Jordan is 21 years old and lives with Autism. My favorite activity to do with my brother is to go on long car rides. Jordan can always make me feel good with his constant smiles and you’d be surprised at how high and loud he can jump in the morning. Jordan graduated from high school this year!

My summer as an WisconSibs intern flew by! I think back to when I had my interview with Harriet in March and how much I have personally changed. I went from thinking that I would just work in a daycare for the entire summer to having a job that actually made a difference both in the community and for myself.

I have seen just how much energy it is to run a non-profit. Originally, I thought non-profits were easy systems that anyone can run. Boy, was I wrong! Harriet just makes it look incredibly easy and graceful. She truly has the best intentions for every sib that she encounters.

From this experience, I can now say that I have experience running fundraisers, acting as an Assistant Director for a summer camp, organizing lots of supplies, and writing newsletter articles (check it out)  and editing websites! What other summer job could create that kind of resume? I will certainly take all of these skills with me for the rest of my life.

What’s next? – I will return to Concordia University Wisconsin to continue working on my rehabilitative science undergrad and then eventually a master’s in Occupational Therapy. I am also excited to be working as a resident assistant for the Bethesda College on campus! I will personally be an RA to 6 residents. I’m looking forward to continuing to help with various WisconSibs activities in the future.

Jyll the Intern Says Goodbye

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Jyll and her brother Noah

Hi my name is Jyll Van Vooren.  I have been a WisconSib for over 5 years. Within WisconSibs I have been a counselor for SibDays of Summer and the Circles of Life Conference.

My brother is Noah Van Vooren. He is 22 years old and has Down syndrome. A couple of our favorite things to do together are taking walks, car rides with tons of singing, going to Miracle League, and watching football.  My favorite thing about Noah is his love for others and his genuine happiness that he radiates to those around him. 

In a blink of an eye the summer of being an intern for WisconSibs is wrapping up. I have learned an incredible amount in these past ten weeks. As an intern, I was able to partake in helping with fundraisers, special events, meetings, helping coordinate and run Teen Sib Leadership Day, and being an Assistant Director for the older campers at SibDays of summer. I have learned how to coordinate a fundraiser and other events with various companies to host events that benefit the WisconSib organization. Harriet has been a great role model and has taught me a great amount about nonprofit’s and how they are run. She truly is the heart of WisconSibs and it was amazing being able to learn from her.  I am extremely grateful to have been involved in WisconSibs in this unique way. It was truly a great learning experience and it was a great summer!

What’s next? – I’m returning to Concordia University of Wisconsin as a Junior, where I am focusing on Social work. I am also blessed to have a new position at school: ARD (assistant resident director) of two dorms. All of what I have learned from WisconSibs will be applied to this year of school and beyond!

Thanks to WisconSibs donors for making this internship opportunity possible. You make a big difference.

Friday: Did You See that Firework? – 4th of July

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How could we have a holiday themed week and not include 4th of July during the month of July? Well, we did include it. We wanted to end with a bang. I think we did. Along with preparations for the closing reception, fun was had. All groups created Firework Salt Art. Those projects really blew our minds. Some of the sibs tied fireworks to their lives. Their siblings with disabilities add so much color and excitement to their lives. We are glad connections like these can be made!

Before the reception, everyone had a chance to go swimming with friends one last time. Our closing reception was a smash once again and even included ice cream!   

How does the week of SibDays always go so fast? Everyone enjoyed “Every Day’s a SibDay!” Some of the favorites included swimming, Curt’s Carnival, Zoozort, and meeting new friends. We hope to see you all next year during our SibShops and SibDays!

Photos from Yesterday (Thursday!)

Zoozort came yesterday! Noelle is the creator of this fantastic organization. In this picture, she is holding the adorable wallaby, Amelia.

Meet Mimi! This is a 9-banded Armadillo. She cannot curl up into a ball, but she is a very good digger.

Cornelius the Chameleon! FYI: chameleons camouflage, not change colors and they also have individual eyes, so they can watch one side of the room while stalking something else!

Hello Igor! He is a very nice toad.

Here is a close up of Amelia the Wallaby! Amelia was my personal favorite.

A camper is showing the other campers what a hollow tortoise shell looks like! Noelle also brought an alive tortoise named Clementine:)

Thursday: Can you find them all? – Scavenger Hunt Day

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Campers and counselors learned lots about themselves today. The theme of the day was Scavenger Hunt Day. Not only were physical objects found, but personal emotions too. In their small groups, campers made Inside/Out Masks. Sometimes we all put on a face to hide what’s inside, but not today. Having a sibling with a disability can be a challenge. Most of the world does not see that side of a sibling.


Besides this emotional discovery, groups went on a Scavenger Hunt around Plamann Park. Some very special guests came to visit: Zoozort! Many unique animals made an appearance. We are very thankful for the Grade family in bringing Zoozort to us in memory of Alden Grade. We cooled off with water games and popsicles!

Reminders: Please bring: swimsuit, towel, sunscreen, water bottle, and lunch. Family reception is tomorrow at 2:30 pm. Come see all the things our SibDays campers have been doing this week! There will also be an ice cream social, thanks to the Thrivent Action Team!

Photos from yesterday (Wednesday!)

Sibs have fun at Curt’s Carnival, an event of SibDays and Camp Hope. Thank you to the Krull family for your generosity in memory of Curt. We are forever sibs. These sibs are capturing a moment in front of a photo booth!

Our organizer for SibDays, Michelle, just had a baby boy on Friday! She came to visit us for a little while and show off her adorable baby boy:)

Campers had a chance to play with the huge parachute today!

We had to do our famous “bug photo”. It turned out beautifully! Can you find your camper?


Wednesday: Our Most Favorite Day – Siblings Day

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We hope you remembered your T-shirt because today was picture and Siblings Day! 

It wasn’t quite Siblings Day because it is actually celebrated on April 10th. It was our SibDays Siblings Day. Siblings are very special and need to be reminded of that. Today was all about them. How can you make everyday Siblings Day? Lots of other fun activities happened as well. An art therapist came in and helped the campers create a fantastic firework hand project. Our camp was able to go over to Camp Hope for an annual favorite: CURT’S CARNIVAL! Campers and counselors love going over to visit and play many fun games.

Reminders: Please bring a lunch, swimsuit and towel, sunscreen, and a water bottle!

Friday is our Family Reception! Come at 2:30 pm and see all the things our campers have been doing this week.

Pictures from Yesterday (Tuesday)!

The campers and counselors alike were captivated by the facts regarding the turtle and snake! Many legends were dispelled.

We had some special visitors on Tuesdays, including Harriet the snake!

Along with Harriet the Snake came Tina the Turtle! The campers and counselors liked to feel Tina’s shell.

We had lots of favorite holidays displayed today: SuperBowl Sunday, Easter, Christmas, Earth Day and MANY, many more!

The campers had a chance to create their own holiday. This camper decided to create “National Cat Day”!

This camper liked using lots of foam stickers!

Guess Who?

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In addition to our fabulous directors, SibDays couldn’t be pulled off if counselors were not considered. We wanted to see if you all could guess who was what counselor by these descriptions. Happy guessing!

Black/white Group Counselors

  • Renna and Jyll were already introduced in the other post, so we will focus on the other three.

This counselor has been a part of SibDays for many, many years! She serves as the vital communication support between the two camps. She is 21 years old and loves Christmas.

  • New to the older camp this year is our next counselor. He is 16 years old and attends Kimberly. His favorite holiday is Christmas.

This is this counselors 2nd year helping at SibDays! He works at the YMCA and is almost done with schooling to become a teacher!

The Red Lady Bugs

The leader of the Red Ladybugs has been helping with SibDays for a few years. She is currently 17 years old and attends Freedom High School. She really enjoys celebrating Christmas!

This next counselor wins for the longest traveled! She is 17 and just graduated from Whitefish Bay High School and will attend UW Oshkosh in the fall. Her favorite holiday is Halloween.

Our next counselor has been a huge help the past few years! She is 17 years old and attends Appleton East High School. You can find her smiling the greatest at Christmas:)

The final counselor of the Red Ladybugs has been a camper for many years, but she is coming to camp as a counselor for the first time! She is 14 ad goes to Neenah High School. She too likes Christmas.

Pink Polka Dots

We are very excited to welcome back the leader of the Pink Polka Dots! She is 16 and attends Appleton West. We should truly have a Christmas party, because lots of counselors love this holiday!

Our next counselor is 14 years old and is going to be starting high school at Fox Valley Lutheran. Her favorite holiday is 4th of July.

Our final counselor of the pink polka dots has been at SibDays for many years now. She also has a brother who is a counselor. She is 14 and attends Hilbert High School. She likes to celebrate Easter.

Purple tie-dye

The leader of the Purple tie-dyes has been attending SibDays since she was an early child. She is 19 and goes to Concordia University WI for OT. She too likes to celebrate Christmas:)

Our next counselor also has a brother who is a counselor. She is 15 and goes to Kimberly High School. Her favorite holiday is Christmas.

Our last counselor of the purple tie-dyes is 14 and attends Neenah High School. She likes spooky things and especially loves Halloween.

Green Camo

The leader of the Green Camo group is a long-time attendee and counselor of SibDays. He has a sister who is also a counselor. He is 17 and attends Hilbert High School. You are not going to guess what his favorite holiday is: Arbor day!

This next counselor is 15 and goes to Hortonville High School. We have another unique holiday favorite: her birthday:)

This counselor has been going to SibDays since she has been 6 and is sister’s to one of the interns. She had her sweet 16 in April and goes to Fox Valley Lutheran High School. She enjoys celebrating New Year’s Eve, not day.

One of the newest counselors is this junior counselor! He is 13 and attends James Madison. If he had to pick a holiday, it would be Christmas.

Red, White, Blue

We are to our last group! This leader can always make you laugh. He just turned 17 this week and attends Appleton North. His favorite holiday is every holiday!

If you knew this counselor as a camper, he sure has changed in height! He is 14 and attends Neenah High School. He enjoys Halloween.

This next counselor is joining us for the first time ever! He is 14, goes to Appleton North, and loves Easter.

The final counselor is our 2nd junior counselor. He is 13, attends Freedom schools, and loves Thanksgiving:)


We sure do love our counselors, but it is also nice to have volunteers who do not specifically belong to a specific group.

Our first floater has been with WisconSibs for over 15 years! Amanda is 26 and is entering her first year as a special ed teacher at Freedom Middle and High School. Her favorite holiday is Christmas.

Our last, but certainly not least volunteer is a new helper. He is 18 and attends Appleton North High School.


SibDay Counselors Training – bowling

The counselors have just as much fun at SibDays as the campers:)

Tuesday: What’s your favorite holiday?

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Campers came decked out in their favorite holiday gear. We saw Christmas, Halloween, and oh so much more. “Harriet the Snake” and friends made a special appearance. The campers and counselors both enjoyed swimming once again. During small group discussions, sibs shared how holidays can be challenging at times. Sibs also shared their unique twists to holidays. We ended with creating and eating our own holiday flag.

Did you know? The name “SibDays of Summer” is taken from the idea of “dog days of summer”, the hottest, most humid time of year. But where did that name come from? Believe it or not the term “dog days” comes from the constellation of stars called Sirius, the “dog star”. In summer, Sirius rises and sets with the sun. The ancient Romans believed that the heat from the stars combined with the heat of the sun creating the hottest part of summer. We’re happy the weather forecast looks great for a beautiful week.


  • Wednesday’s theme is Siblings Day.

Here are some photos from yesterday!

Jake the Magician disappearing into the balloon

Jake the Magician liked to fool our eyes with this trick:)

A camper had to move the peanut butter and raspberry jelly by saying Please and Thank you! To her surprise, her hat was not what she thought:)

The Pink Polka Dots are having a great time getting to know each other!

The Purple tie-dyes are having a pleasant day:)

The Red Lady Bugs are just flying around with so much excitement:)

The Red, White, and Blue Group is just bursting with energy for this week!