The most Frequently Asked Questions and how we answer them.

Pact Adoption Camp 2013


Is Pact Family Camp for transracial families only?

Pact camp is appropriate for ALL adoptive families with children of color. About 75% of the families who attend have adopted transracially and most of the parents in those families are white. There are usually quite a few families in attendance in which one of the two parents is the same race as their child; there are also a few families in which all members are people of color. Recognizing that talking about race in racially mixed groups is sometimes challenging, we offer some times and spaces exclusively for adoptive parents of color to interact in a safe space with other parents of color. There are also plenty of opportunities for interacting as a multiracial community.

return to top ^


Should we attend if we are a same-race family of color?

At Pact Family Camp we provide a welcoming and supportive environment for parents of color—we are here to meet the needs of you and your family. The majority of the camp speakers, workshop leaders, and staff (including the counselors who spend the day with your children) are people of color, many of them adopted. Some programming is organized into separate groups for adoptive parents of color, because topics of oppression, race and culture are often sensitive and volatile subjects and we want to make sure that you are not being asked to be a teacher of white people if that is not your desire. Of course, we invite people to reach across racial lines as they choose, but we want to acknowledge the power dynamics that can happen when adoptive parents of color are in the minority. At Pact Family Camp, we emphatically believe that it is not the "job" of people in the minority to help those from the majority process their feelings about race, adoption, gender, sexual orientation etc.

return to top ^


What is the ideal age for children to attend Pact Family Camp?

Pact Family Camp is appropriate for all ages, and the ages of participating kids are spread out surprisingly evenly, from infants to 18-year-olds. The time that all the kids spend with mentors (many of them adult adoptees) who “look like them” is a valuable experience for children of all ages and stages. Parents of children at all ages report that they benefit tremendously from finding community, sharing information, and learning new parenting strategies. Pact Family Camp provides a safe, supportive environment—for both kids and adults—in which to explore the complex issues faced by adopted children of color. Coming to Pact Family Camp can open new channels of communication in your family that you will use long after camp is over.

return to top ^


We are an LGBTQ-headed household, will we be welcomed at Pact Family Camp?

Between 30 and 35% of the families attending Pact Family Camp over the last several years self-identify as LGBTQ-headed households. Pact is committed to being allies to the LGBTQ community. We hire and train our staff accordingly. We also are proactive in hiring LGBTQ-identified staff to reflect and offer supportive conversations and support to youth growing up in LGBTQ-headed households as well as those who are exploring their own sexual and/or gender expression. In addition we create opportunities for parents to connect in affinity lunch groups to explore their parenting issues and share their experiences.

return to top ^


I am a single parent, will there be other single parents in attendance?

Each year approximately 25% of the families in attendance at Pact Family Camp are headed by single parents; there are also some parents who attend without their partners. We create opportunities for single parents to connect in affinity lunch groups to explore their parenting issues and share their experiences.

return to top ^


Can we bring extended family members to Pact Family Camp?

There are always extended family members who attend Camp with their children or siblings who are adoptive parents. Each year they tell us how important the experience is for them in navigating their own growth and understanding of their family’s experiences of adoption and race. Several birth parents have attended as well, and we welcome them as important members of the triad who we are delighted to count as members of the Pact community, along with not only the children they have placed for adoption but also those whom they continue to parent.

return to top ^


How is age-appropriate programing created?

Children and youth are separated into seven groups for developmentally appropriate programming. Each group wears a different color t-shirt for easy identification and many children look forward with great anticipation to moving up to the next group. Infants to 3-year-olds (Yellows) and 4- and 5- year-olds (Oranges) comprise the “Littles;” the “Middles” are made up of 6- and 7-year-olds (Light Blues) and 8- and 9-year-olds (Dark Blues). The “Tweens” are 10-12 years old (Red) and “Teens” (Brown) are subdivided into younger (13-14 or 15) and older (15 or 16 and up) groups. Each group has its own head counselor leading a team of counselors, with a ratio between 3:1 for the youngest to 6:1 for the oldest. The activities that explore issues related to adoption and race begin very gently with the youngest children and gradually allow for more in-depth and intensive work as the kids are ready for it.

return to top ^


My child is under 5 years old; does Pact Family Camp make sense for our family?

Parents who come for the first time when their children are Middles (ages 6- to 9-years-old) tell us that they wish they had started attending when their children were even younger, because they see the comfort and sense of safety that younger children achieve. Our youngest campers get the chance to grow up always knowing lots of other adopted kids of color—and meeting lots of adopted adults as well. Attending while your children are very young allows them to build community and form connections with counselors and other children so that when they are older and begin to engage with deeper feelings about adoption and race, they already trust the Pact community to be a safe and supportive place to express those feelings. And even children at very young ages can begin to learn words that will help them talk about adoption and race. We introduce language and ideas through art and music projects that support racial identification, adoption comfort, and strong family connections. Because many of our youngest campers have a high need to be connected to their parents, we offer an alternative schedule for them as well as special activities that promote family attachment.

return to top ^


What kinds of conversations happen with youth 6 to 9 years old?

Children this age are ready to ask questions and expand their understanding of race, adoption, and identity. At Pact, we have developed a curriculum called Adoption Facts that we use to answer the children’s questions about adoption. Each year they are energized and ready to engage in discussions about what adoption and foster care mean to them, how they feel about their racial identity and their birth heritage. They often ask questions about birth family. We brainstorm ideas for improving the adoption system. These children, whom we call the Middles, are divided into two groups (six/seven year olds and eight/nine year olds) and they are often among our most enthusiastic Pact Campers. They respond energetically to art projects and activities that promote a sense of community and pride in racial heritage. This group’s motto can be heard all over Camp: “NBLITH” – Nothing But Love in the House.

return to top ^


My tween is not sure he/she wants to attend – how do you ensure that older children have a successful experience at Pact Family Camp?

We understand that tweens don't want parents or professionals selecting friends for them. Can Pact guarantee that each tween will have fun or connect at camp? No. Is pushing attendance just setting up another source of ammunition for them to say, "I told you so," if they don't have a good time? Maybe. Is it worth a try to give them an opportunity to find a setting that may feel like a better fit than some others? Yes. We know that it has worked for the overwhelming majority of participants, who once they attend have found the experience to be fun, rewarding, and important. Many of them turn around and insist that their parents promise to return each year thereafter. Youth this age are given the chance to discover how cool our Camp staff is and often the very ones who swore they would not participate are our most active contributors. Discussions, art projects and step dance all offer opportunities for youth to explore new areas of racial and/or adoption identity in ways that they may not have previously. Programming also includes some discussion of new awareness and/or questions about sexual identity, peer-relationships, birth parents and other related topics, as well as a field trip to the nearby ropes course.

return to top ^


How is programing different for teen campers?

Teens (age 13 and older) are separated by age, housed together with their counselors, and have their own round-the-clock staffing, unlike other campers (who return to their parents after the day’s programming is over). They participate in a fun and stimulating program that includes a wide variety of outdoor activities and field trips (including river rafting and a ropes course); they also learn to serve as mentors and buddies to our younger campers. They have their own "hang-out" room, in which they spend a great deal of time. Teens participate in adoption, race and identity discussions with adult adoptees and other mentors of color, who talk to them in honest and supportive ways. Programming includes workshops on communication, decision-making, values, and sexuality, with opportunities for facilitated interaction between teens and their parents.

return to top ^


Do you have a Counselor in Training program?

Pact has a CIT program for older youth ages 18-20. We encourage young adults to apply for a position that offers them the opportunity to step into a leadership role at camp and possibly return the following year as a full-fledged counselor. Contact us for more details youthcoordinators@pactadopt.org.

return to top ^


What are the races of the children that attend Pact Family Camp?

At Pact Camp we are inclusive of adopted children of color of all races and ethnicities because we believe that they have much in common with one another despite their differing racial and/or ethnic experiences. Fundamentally all adopted people of color tell us that race matters and adoption matters and we provide curriculum and a community that supports these commonalities, so that children and youth can learn how to find and recognize allies within their own communities. Over the last several years, 70-75% of the youth in attendance are African American or part African American, and 25-30% are split evenly between Latino and Asian ethnicities. There are also a small number of white siblings in attendance. We carefully hire our counselor and program/curriculum staff to reflect the children’s racial/ethnic demographics so that youth in most groups not only have peers who share their racial group but also at least one counselor. The Pact community is intentionally inclusive and proactively anti-racist.

return to top ^


Should I bring the children born to our family to Pact Family Camp?

Pact’s Director, Beth Hall, is herself a non-adopted sibling who grew up in an adoptive family. She hosts a special dinner for non-adopted siblings of all ages every year at Pact Camp so that these children recognize that they are important members of the Pact community. We often have one or two counselors who are non-adopted siblings of adoptees themselves and make sure the program is inclusive for these children. They tell us that they like knowing more about adoption and exploring and understanding better some of the issues their brothers and sisters are facing so they can become allies.

return to top ^


What are the housing options at Pact Family Camp?

All families are housed in comfortable hotel-style rooms with private baths and an appropriate number of beds for all family members (sometimes including Murphy beds and/or sofa beds). If you choose to upgrade your housing there are 3 options available. The availability of upgraded accommodations is limited; they will be given out on a first-come, first-served basis with camp registration and a $300 upgrade deposit. Decisions will be confirmed by May 1 and additional housing upgrade fees (listed below) due on May 15. If we are unable to meet your request, the $300 deposit will be refunded, otherwise the deposit is non-refundable.
  • Studio Housing: private studio apartment style room with a full kitchen and 1 full bath. Additional fee of $300 per family (covered by initial deposit).
  • Shared Family Townhouse: shared townhouse with one or two other families include a full kitchen, dining room, and family room. Private sleeping quarters and 1 private full bathroom are included for each family; these units often have an additional loft sleeping space to be shared by all occupants. Additional fee of $600/per family ($300 per family over and above the required deposit).
  • • Single Family Townhouse: private townhouse including full kitchen, dining/family room, separate sleeping quarters and 1-2 full bathrooms. Additional fee of $1500 ($1200 per family over and above the required deposit).

return to top ^


Can we attend Pact Family Camp part-time?

Pact Family Camp is and should be a full-immersion experience; parents and children form bonds by living in close proximity for the full period of the camp program. Program-wise, it is important for all children in the program to have continuity in their peer group. It is disruptive to have some kids attending camp for only a few days. For these reasons, we do not allow families to attend Pact Family Camp for anything other than a full-time, full-session basis. Our contract with the conference center includes only a small reduction in price for commuters, making it hardly worth the savings given the loss of the experience of being on-site continuously: so much of the community-building benefit of Camp comes from informal visiting that occurs during meals, in proximal living space, at the pool, and during family free time. We strongly recommend against participating on a commuter basis.

return to top ^


Can we have visitors while we are at Pact Family Camp?

Pact Family Camp is a closed campus. Sometimes families have friends or family in the area they would like to see while they are at Camp. Although we understand this, we have found that it is important to the program and continuity of the experience not to have visitors while at Camp. If you would like to see these friends or family while you are visiting the area we encourage you to extend your stay or meet them off-site.

return to top ^


Why does Pact Family Camp cost so much?

We understand that Pact Family Camp is not cheap and that some families have to make difficult tradeoffs in order to participate. Pact is a non-profit organization, and our Board of Directors has committed to NOT using Pact Family Camp as a way to generate revenue; the goal for Camp is simply to break even. We want as many families as possible to be able to participate. Camp fees are set on a sliding scale based on family income. We also have a fund that supports scholarships (partial subsidies) for all families with income under $100,000.

We see Pact Family Camp as an investment in the well-being of adopted children of color and those who love them. Pact Family Camp costs what it does because it takes a lot of money to provide a five-day, all-inclusive program that offers world-class education and support for children of all ages as well as their adoptive parents, birth parents, and other allies. It is often a great sacrifice for families to come to camp, and we appreciate the choice they have made. What they get in return is nationally renowned speakers; incredible counselors and mentors (many of whom are themselves adopted or fostered) who are devoted to supporting adopted children of color; unique programs to help children process their adoption experience; the chance to connect with other families who share their experiences; and opportunities for recreation in a beautiful setting. Pact Camp creates community for families who too often don’t find services specifically designed with them in mind.

return to top ^


What are the payment options for Pact Family Camp?

You can pay the full camp fee at registration or select a payment plan. If you choose the payment plan, there is a $150 fee. You will be required to pay an initial deposit of $500 plus the $150 payment plan fee to register; you will then provide us with credit card information so that you can be charged in regular equal installments on the first of each month, with the balance paid in full by July 1. Please note that you can save money by registering as soon as possible; early bird discounts are available. Late registration fees are charged after May 1.

return to top ^


Is financial aid available?

We do everything we can to ensure that families at all income levels can participate in Pact Family Camp. Families with income/assets under $100K are offered the opportunity to attend Pact Family Camp at a reduced rate. This support is made possible by gifts we have received from generous donors who want to make sure that the Camp experience is available to all. More information and subsidy application available here.

return to top ^