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 those parents 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 when parents are given the opportunity to interact in a safe space with others who share their racial identity. There are also plenty of opportunities for interacting as a multiracial community.

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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 transracial and same-race parents, because topics of oppression, race and culture are often sensitive and volatile subjects. 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 a group is 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.

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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.

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

Approximately 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 and hires and trains 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 that 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.

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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.

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We are interested in bringing 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.

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How is age appropriate programing created for various age youth?

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.

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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.

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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.

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My tween is not sure he/she wants to attend – how do you ensure that 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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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What are the housing options at Pact Family Camp?

All families stay in hotel-style rooms with private bathrooms; rooms are assigned based on family size and number of beds needed. All rooms are comfortable and of equivalent high quality; your neighbors will be other Pact families. There are three types of housing accommodations for families: standard units (included in camp fees), studio units (which have kitchens), and multi- bedroom units. Non-standard rooms can be rented for an additional charge based on family size and availability.

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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.

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Why Does Pact Family Camp Cost So Much?

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 DOES cost a lot of money because it takes a lot of money to provide a full service program that includes 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 know and appreciate the investment they have made. We are offering quality programming for both adults and children: nationally renowned speakers, incredible counselors and mentors who are devoted to supporting adopted children of color (many of whom are themselves adopted or fostered), unique programs to help children process their adoption experience, and wonderful opportunities for recreation. Pact Camp creates community for families who too often don’t find services so specifically designed with them in mind. It is a struggle to create a budget that allows access for families while ensuring that Pact break even. As an organization, the board has committed NOT to make a profit on the camp. In an effort to be as fair as possible, we set a sliding scale of program fees based on family income. This allows a range of income levels at camp that would otherwise be impossible. We also have a fund for scholarships for all families with income under $100,000 so that some of the cost of their attendance is subsidized.

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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 to pay your camp fees on a 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 1st. Please note that you can save money by registering as soon as possible; early bird discounts are available and late registration fees are charged after mid-April.

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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 (insert PDF).

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