adoptee with pink glasses cheering

A Holt Adoptee Camp Playlist to Celebrate the Summer

Holt Adoptee Camp counselor Grace Ingram made a special Holt Adoptee Camp playlist to help campers and counselors get excited about upcoming summer adventures! “Camp Secrets: The EP” is now available in Oregon, Wisconsin, California and New Jersey (use an open mind and imagination for best listening experience). 

Track 1: Adoptees just wanna have fun! 

About this Holt Adopee Camp track

Admittedly, I had never heard of an adoptee camp before.  However, I became familiar with Holt Adoptee Camp through Cam Lee Small’s Instagram account in which he talked about his time both attending camp as a camper and serving as a camp counselor. Cam is a well-known Korean American adoptee who works as a therapist.  

Despite my lack of familiarity with an adoptee camp atmosphere and reservations about what my role would entail, I took that leap of faith, applied and ended up serving as a camp counselor last summer. I don’t know if I had any expectations coming into adoptee camp since I had never attended one when I was younger. And even though, due to COVID, Holt’s 2021 Holt Adoptee Camp was held remotely over a digital platform — I can definitely say it felt like what camp is supposed to feel like…It was fun!

For some of you, there may be doubt and fear that adoptee camp will be loaded down with talk of race, culture, identity, family, etc. While we do discuss those things, we also know how to have fun! Because adoptees just wanna have fun like anyone else. Holt Adoptee Camp is well balanced, presenting both formal and informal opportunities to discuss such topics as mentioned above, while also providing many recreational and social outlets. 

Track 2: Let’s hear it for the boy campers and counselors!

About this Holt Adopee Camp track

My third year of university was disrupted by the pandemic and students were made to return home where online learning would resume. Needing to finish up some laboratory research, I ended up staying with a local host family from my church since I was an out-of-state student. The family I stayed with had three biological daughters and two adopted sons, one from Sierra Leone and one from Ethiopia. Living with that family temporarily and seeing adoption from a non-female perspective challenged me in ways I’ve never been challenged before. I was confronted for the first time in my life to really consider the challenges and rewards of adoption from a male perspective. Globally, more girls than boys have joined families through adoption. As a result, the adoption narrative is frequently dominated by a female perspective. But adoption is not just a female social phenomenon.  

Boys, at Holt Camp we hear you and we see you. Camp leadership is committed to employing male adoptee counselors to address your needs and provide sources of mentorship. And female leaders, even in our limited capacity, are committed to addressing your needs and providing sources of mentorship the best we can! 

 I can’t lie…the ratio of male to female campers is definitely unequal (but the ratio of male to female adoptees is globally unequal as well). Boys, take this imbalance in gender distribution as an opportunity to grow yourself and grow others, both your counselors and your peers.  

I had the opportunity to grow in many ways serving in a predominantly Asian American adoptee space as an African adoptee last summer. The process of getting comfortable being uncomfortable is both a challenging and rewarding one and the adoption community is full of uncomfortable spaces and uncomfortable talks — so why not start now?!  I hope that male adoptees would take this invitation to be a part of Holt Adoptee Camp as a deeply heartfelt one. And I hope that adoptive parents, you would be attentive to your male adoptee’s needs even when they aren’t as seemingly apparent as female adoptee needs.

Track 3: Campers, you (only) get what you give… 

About this Holt Adopee Camp track

Adoptee camp is fun, but adoptee camp is different. I was a Girl Scout growing up and we went to camps quite a bit. But I never remember sitting around the campfire talking about how tired we got of people asking us where we were from or why are our parents were a different color than us.

Adoptee camp is different and valuable because unlike traditional summer camps, it is both recreational and educational. As is the case with any educational setting: Students (adoptees), you only get what you give.

The adoptee community is not a monolith or a one-dimensional character, but a conglomerate of individuals from many backgrounds, experiences, countries, etc. We are all at different places in developing our adoptee identities and journeys — with some of us wanting to expedite the process by initiating a birth search or birth country trip, and some of us wanting to just take those experiences in as they come. Wherever you fall on this spectrum, that’s okay and your feelings and actions are validated and valued. But whether you are the eager, proactive adoptee or whether you are the laissez faire, go-with-the-flow adoptee, camp can only give you as much as you give to it.

What do I mean by this? Well, if you want a great camp experience, approach camp with a great mindset. In following the basics— such as listening to your cabin leader, being a team player, and listening and respecting your fellow campers’ opinions during the sessions— your camp experience will be holistically enriched as you remember that you are part of a community. Communities thrive when members follow the rules. But more than that, during the specific adoption sessions and discussions, listen with intent and/or participate with intent. The more you take advantage of the opportunities to explore your identity and connect with other adoptees, the more you will get out of the whole camp experience.

Track 4: The Dog Days are NOT over  

About this Holt Adoptee Camp track

During camp, you have the wonderful opportunity to meet people just like you — both in physical appearance and in lived experiences. It’s the best type of social bubble to be trapped in. You will make new friends, be mentored, and have the opportunity to try new activities and learn new things about adoption and yourself.

But then it’s time to go home?!

Camp is not the finished masterpiece of your identity. It’s a tool to be used during the building process. As an adult adoptee, I can assure you that the dog days are far from over. The hottest days of summer, the hardest parts of your adoptee journey are probably still ahead, but camp provides a proactive and FUN opportunity to be in a community with others who will be sweating out those hottest days of summer under the same sun (errrr, life) as well!

Today adoptees have many tools. This includes various forms of media, therapy or counseling, and…camp! Even as an adult adoptee, camp has been an important tool in my life as I unravel all the parts of my story and identity — because my dog days are far from over, and that’s okay!

Track 5: Take a chance on camp!

About this Holt Adoptee Camp track

As you finish your listening experience, there may still be hesitation as to whether camp is the right experience for you or your adopted child. Whether you are an adoptee or an adoptive parent, I encourage you to take this leap of faith and take a chance on Holt Adoptee Camp. This is an experience like no other. Despite all the tools and all the forms of media out there for adoptees today, nothing can replace the experience of camp. The opportunity to connect with other adoptees — both of one’s age and of older ages — and the opportunity to both explore one’s adoption experiences, while molding one’s identity are just some of the reasons why signing up for camp is an investment that has a guaranteed return. Take a chance on Holt Adoptee Camp. Sign up, and by the end of your time, you – or your son or daughter — will be saying, “Mamma Mia, I can’t wait for next year!” 

About the author

Hey friends! I’m Grace Ingram. I was adopted when I was 2 months old from South Africa and lived there until I was 8. I’ve lived pretty much all over the United States, but Chicago has been my favorite so far. I recently graduated with my undergraduate degree in Zoology and now I am working towards a master’s of science in Conservation Project Management from the University of Kent! I love animals, especially the big ones. 

If you enjoyed this short Holt Adoptee Camp playlist, get the full Camp album experience and sign up at one of the four locations across the U.S. this summer! 

three girls smiling for camera

Registration for Holt Adoptee Camp 2023 is now open!

At camp, adoptees have the chance to try new things, make new friends and share their experiences with other adoptees! This program is available to all domestic, international, transracial or transcultural adoptees, ages 9-17.

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