This was my third year of being part of Holt Adoptee Camp, and my second as camp director. It’s hard to believe that I’ve only been part of this community for such a short amount of time, especially after meeting campers who attended for most of their lives. I remember my first year well; learning about the program, going to a couple of the camps, and trying to absorb every drop of the experience. I quickly realized that one of my favorite activities is the talent show. Watching the array of talents — everything from card tricks and puppet shows to incredibly moving dance and musical performances — I was enamored.
I left that year feeling incredibly privileged to experience Holt camp, while also thinking, “Who am I to come in and run this?!” Getting over my imposter syndrome was a struggle, but as I look back, I realize that what I was feeling was more than just fear of my abilities. It was a realization that I had been missing the Adoptee connection and community for most of my life. I was overwhelmed by the connection and community that I didn’t even know I needed. I can only imagine that for many new campers, this was their experience, too, and it’s what keeps campers coming back.
This camp season, I found myself thrilled to see returning faces and an abundance of new ones. Upon arrival day at each camp, I always got that rush of excitement, as well as a little queasiness. But mostly, I just felt happy to see this community come together again. This year, we saw an increase in camper registration numbers throughout all the camp sites. Our Oregon camp even had a waiting list! Of the total 426 attendees at all four camps, Adoptees represented 23 different birth countries and traveled from 26 different states. These are amazing figures, and they reflect the quality and care that each staff member and volunteer put into the camp program, as well as the value seen in the Adoptee community.
In a world where Adoptees may find themselves feeling like imposters, whether it be within white communities, their birth culture and/or any dominant narrative, I know that Holt camp will continue to grow to meet the needs of all Adoptees. It is a constant to count on, and always a place of belonging.