HCAF’s summer heritage camps provide transracially/transculturally adopted children and their families with structured events in diverse settings, with opportunities to interact with diverse role models.
At camp, members of cultural communities act as HCAF counselors, presenters and volunteers, and are constantly engaged with the campers. Over tasty ethnic food and fun, authentic cultural activities, adoptive families can easily initiate or strengthen an exchange with their child’s cultural community. These experiences open the door for families’ ongoing involvement with their cultural community after camp is over, whether through friendships, dance lessons, new foods to try at home, links to cultural resources in their communities, or their own volunteer contributions. Heritage Camp is the perfect opportunity for adopted children to develop a sense of pride in their heritage, and to share it with their families,
We simply could not provide the level of cultural authenticity we strive for throughout our camp programming without the over 800 people from our various ethnic communities join us at camp, as teachers, performers, and counselors every year. Though adoptive parents usually coordinate the workshops and programs, we pride ourselves in the fact that it is cultural community volunteers who often create the activities and content of the workshops and always teach them. Children and teens get to see faces like theirs in every workshop. Most importantly, they are able to bond with young adult counselors as mentors and friends, often long after camp is over.
In fact, the counselors are the “heart and soul” of every Heritage Camp, as we often say. Their enthusiasm, energy, and dedication to our campers is remarkable, many returning year after year. Our counselors, many who are adoptees and former campers themselves, others born into their cultural families, come from across the country, and take time off from school and work, just to experience camp every year. Counselors often extend their mentorship beyond camp, and become lifelong role models and friends to our campers.
As one parent put it:
“I am so grateful to these young men and women. They put up with a lot of tugging and hugging by our children. They are wonderful role models, and I can’t thank them enough for their time and love for our children.