We feel very strongly that our camps emphasis is twofold, culture and adoption Campers of all ages participate in workshops designed to address the distinct needs of families formed through adoption.
From nationally-renowned speakers and experts in the field, adult campers gain parenting skills and access to additional specialized resources. In fact, the roster of topics and speakers for our adult workshops often rival those of nationally renowned adoption conferences at any one of our camps.
Through developmentally appropriate art workshops, wilderness experiences and volunteer activities, children express – verbally and nonverbally – their feelings and thoughts about their adoption experience, identity issues, feelings of racism, etc.
HCAF recognizes the importance of giving youth the tools to enter The Identity Years (18−26) with buttressed confidence and self-esteem around their racial and adoptive identities. Our signature summer camp programs, trademarked exclusively to HCAF, help us accomplish that goal:
- HeART Talks — Developed in 2001, and run by licensed art therapists, this program provides a vital opportunity for adopted children, from preschool through 5th grade, to express their feelings and thoughts about their adoption experience through art workshops which also serve as a venue for non-adopted siblings to share their feelings. The program coordinator is a transracial adoptee herself.
- More Than Me – Established in 2006, this program benefits middle-school-age youth by giving them the opportunity to “give back” to their culture of origin. Before camp begins, camp leadership or the middle school kids themselves identify a service project either based in or targeting the camp’s specific country/region. Sometimes kids are able to start fundraising even before they arrive at camp. Once at camp, middle schoolers learn more about the beneficiary, and work with camp coordinators to design and implement a fundraising project to take place during the camp session. To date, the various More Than Me project have raised over $18,000 for more than 25 organizations working internationally.
- This Is Me – Started in 2010, this program helps high-schoolers work through issues of race and belonging as they begin to transition from the familiarity and privilege of what are primarily White home environments to shaping an individual identity in a world that first will perceive them as “just” ethnic (i.e., “just” Korean, or “just” Latino, etc.). In the first of two program components, a panel of cultural community representatives converse with high school students in a private setting facilitated by community leaders. In this setting, campers are free to ask questions (e.g., about visiting their birth country, about joining ethnic student associations in college, etc.) and compare experiences (e.g., with each other, with US-born minority presenters or counselors, etc.). As a second component, the counselors meet afterwards with the parents of the high-school participants, and review the issues brought up in the youth session so that parents can access more information and ready their dialogue on topics of interest to their kids.
A Thank You from one of our More Than Me recipients, the BMRT Roundtable School in Bangalore, India:
I personally wanted to thank you and all the kids in the camp for helping the school children. Of course we see corporations lending their support all the time, but it is really heartening to see kids supporting kids across borders and to me this is any day bigger than any other kind of support we can get.