New Holt Family Retreat Slated for 2020

Change is coming to Holt Adoptee Camp… Are you ready?

Holt Adoptee Camp strives to offer a variety of different programs to meet the ever-changing needs of Adoptees and adoptive families. Consolidating and expanding upon current programs for adoptive families at camp is the next step in providing greater support to our community. In July of 2020, Holt Camp will be offering a new multi-day family retreat specifically designed for adoptive families with young Adoptees. This family retreat will take place in Salem, Oregon! Continue reading “New Holt Family Retreat Slated for 2020”

Circle Back: A Program by Adoptees, for Adoptees

Designed for Adoptees, by Adoptees, Holt’s Circle Back program strives to help youth Adoptees build a positive identity. Co-creator Caitlin Howe explains how.

Caitlin (center) with youth Adoptee campers at last year's Holt Adoptee Camp.
Caitlin (center) with youth Adoptee campers at last year’s Holt Adoptee Camp. Feedback from campers in many ways informed and guided the development of Circle Back.

“Hey, what are you doing right now?” I said, laughing.

“Oh, I’m just making a sandwich real quick — but don’t worry, I’m still listening!”

I watched with amusement as Aya set the phone down and went from fridge to kitchen counter gathering ingredients. My fascination grew as she threw a sandwich together in 10 seconds. We had started our video chat just as she had arrived home from school, and before I knew it, she was settling into her living room couch and eating as we talked. She shared about her current classes and also her hopes to be a camp counselor next summer. And we traded stories about being in high school and getting ready for whatever comes next. As we chatted, early evening light spilled into her apartment in Chicago as the sun broke through the clouds here in Oregon. Continue reading “Circle Back: A Program by Adoptees, for Adoptees”

Why Holt Camp is Special

Steve Kalb, Holt’s director of adoptee services, shares what drew him to lead Holt’s camp program — and what’s sustained his enthusiasm over the past 11 years. 

During my freshman year at the University of Iowa in 1995, a friend of mine suggested we become camp counselors at one of the local United Methodist youth camps. “We just take care of kids, lead some activities, and get to live by the lake all summer. It’ll be awesome!” my friend told me. How could I lose? Little did I know, I was about to embark on a summer that would change my life forever. Never having attended camps before, the environment was like nothing I’d ever known. It was a place where time slows down and blurs past you all at once. You’re completely uncomfortable living out of a suitcase and sleeping bag but it all fades into the background as the community and relationships make you feel at home. It’s a place where campers and staff reinvent themselves because they’re unbound from the role they’re expected to play back home. The high school offensive lineman can be the lead singer for his cabin’s doo-wap skit. The introverted Pokémon player confidently directs her team at the challenge course. The unassuming piano player wins the tie-breaking game by capturing the flag. It’s a flexible and forgiving space where awkwardness and vulnerability rise to the surface for everyone to celebrate.

Camp Staff 2015
Steve Kalb (front row, far right) with the 2015 camp counselor staff.

Despite the openness camp fosters, as an Asian Adoptee camp counselor and subsequent camp director in Iowa, I felt little space to be anyone but the farm boy from Oelwein. I wasn’t able to take advantage of camp’s biggest benefit, optimal conditions for self-exploration, because I was always reassuring campers, parents and co-workers that I was as Midwest as they were. I wore seed corn-branded clothing, spoke with a Midwest drawl, and thoroughly enjoyed Jell-o cake and breaded pork tenderloins (some of the Midwest’s finest cuisine). This mindset left me with less room to explore different ways of being or trying different types of roles, for fear that people around me would forget that I was “just like them.”

Continue reading “Why Holt Camp is Special”