Katie Breeden is a Holt adoptee and freshman pre-business and digital arts student at the University of Oregon. This spring, she interned at Holt, helping to organize and promote one of her favorite Holt programs — summer camp!
Holt Adoptee Camp has been a part of my life for six years — I’ve enjoyed roles as both a camper and a counselor.
I started out as a camper, and I wasn’t sure what to think about the whole thing. At first, I had my doubts about this summer camp for adoptees. I was 13, going into 8th grade, and had no idea what to expect. I knew Holt camp wasn’t a heritage or culture camp, so what was it?
On the car ride to Corbett, Oregon that first year, I had about an hour-and-a-half to ponder what Holt Adoptee Camp might be like. My biggest fear was that we would be forced to sit around talking only about adoption for the entire week. The drive was a quiet one. I didn’t know if I would make friends and fit in.
Thankfully, my worries were for nothing.
As we got closer to the campsite, the scenery began to change. The number of houses became few and far between. Fields and trees surrounded us, and when we finally drove down the path to camp, the counselors cheered our car on. The staff welcomed me, and the ice-breaker games we played after introductions got me excited for the week ahead.
Like any other summer camp, there are songs, outdoor games, arts and crafts, swim time, campfires, and counselor-run electives. My favorite elective is sandcastle building (but I could be biased because I helped start it this past summer as a counselor). There are two designated times for adoption talks each day — one in the morning with the entire age group, and one in the evening with just the cabin members. The conversations focus on adoption, identity and racism. Staff members often share some of their own experiences, and campers are encouraged to share as well. Campers also have a chance to ask any questions.
While Holt Adoptee Camp is for adoptees, it does not solely focus on adoption, nor are campers pressured to talk about topics they don’t wish to. Rather, Holt Adoptee Camp provides a safe environment for campers to explore their identity, if they so choose, and be supported by their peers and Holt staff. We are a community of adoptees connected by our experiences. For campers, this is important because they’re given a place to fit in and a time to make new friends — I’m still in contact with people I met back in 2008! Holt Adoptee Camp is a wonderful camp for anyone. Sometimes I’m sad it’s limited to adoptees, because I always have such a great time.
Here is what a typical day might look like at camp:
(Schedule will vary depending on camp site and camper age)
9:00 Group games
10:00 Rock climbing, boating, lake activities
11:00 Adoption lesson
4:00 Group games
6:45 Small group adoption discussion
7:15 Evening activities
9:30 Return to cabin, get ready for bed.
More information on Holt Adoptee Camp:
- Currently held in Wautoma, WI; Corbett, OR; Hampton, GA; Dobbins, CA; and Phoenixville, PA.
- Overnight camp is offered for ages 9-16 and lasts 5 days and 4 nights.
- Day camp is offered for campers who are either too young to go to camp or are hesitant about overnight camp and lasts one day during overnight camp, which allows day campers to mingle with the overnight campers and participate in the camp activities.
- Registration for camp is open now! Register here.
- 17-year-olds can “job shadow” counselors in the Counselor in Training (CIT) program. Apply here.
- Individuals who are older than 17 can apply to be a Holt Adoptee Camp counselor. Apply here.