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. Over 25% of the families in attendance include at least one parent of color; our goal is to have at least 1/3 of the families attending include one parent of color. In the past, about 75% of the participating families have adopted transracially, and most but not all of the parents in those families are white. Recognizing that talking about race in racially mixed groups is sometimes challenging, we offer daily times and spaces exclusively for adoptive parents of color to interact in a safe space with other parents of color, and opportunities to focus more on adoption issues alone rather than the intersections that occur with race. For white parents, we offer specific programming on parenting across racial lines, and “brave spaces” in which to explore concepts of racial identity, including white identity. We place great value on creating opportunities for everyone to interact as a multiracial community.

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Should we attend if we are adoptive parents 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. We expect that between 25% and 30% of the families in attendance include at least one adoptive parent of color; this percentage is increasing each year as more families learn about Camp. 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. There are daily opportunities for adoptive parents of color to attend workshops or meet among themselves, 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. We want to see you at Pact Family Camp and we are committed to making it an experience that will meet your needs. We have special offers available to make camp more affordable too.

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Do we stay in tents? What is the housing like at Camp?

No! No camping is involved at Pact Family Camp
  • Pact Family Camp West is held at the charming and well-appointed Granlibakken Resort. All families are housed in comfortable hotel-style rooms with private baths and an appropriate number of beds for all family members (sometimes including fold-out Murphy beds and/or sofa beds), with daily room service, and will be provided with three generous meals a day. Amenities include a heated swimming pool and hot tub, a small fitness room, and even a spa where you can book an appointment for a massage. The resort is surrounded by walking trails; while many campers remain on the resort grounds the entire time, a pleasant hike brings you to Lake Tahoe, the Truckee River, and Tahoe City, as does a five-minute drive. If you choose to upgrade your housing for an additional fee, you can choose to have a full kitchen in your room, to share a townhouse with other families, or to reserve an entire townhouse for your family. A limited number of upgraded accommodations are available on a first-come, first-served basis at the time of camp registration.
  • Pact Family Camp East is located at Pearlstone in Reistertown, just half an hour from Baltimore’s airport, in the Chesapeake area of northern Maryland. The site includes 160 acres of land, including access to a pool for our exclusive use, playgrounds for children, sports facilities, boating on the local pond, and even an educational farm. With relaxing lounges and beautiful outdoor spaces, it is the ideal site for families to connect and relax while learning and growing together. If you choose to stay in standard housing your family will be housed in a private dormitory style room furnished with twin sized beds with a shared bathroom. Alternatively, you may upgrade to a spacious hotel style room furnished with 2 double beds and a double pull out sofa with a private bath. Room service will be provided once during your stay but is available more often for an additional fee.

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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 family; 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.

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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. Some single parents share townhouses or childcare, to increase their own adult time while ensuring that their children are fully engaged during family time each afternoon and evening. We encourage single parent families to connect with others to enhance their camp experience.

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Can we bring extended family members to Pact Family Camp?

There are always extended family members who attend Camp, including grandparents, aunts and uncles, friends and even children’s caregivers. 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. Click here for more information.

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Can our child’s birth family attend?

More birth family members are attending Pact Family Camp each year! 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. We offer special financial incentives to help adoptive families who would like to ensure that their children’s first/birth parents can attend Camp.

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How is age-appropriate programming created?

Children and youth are separated into groups for developmentally age-appropriate programming. Each group wears a different color t-shirt for easy identification; many children look forward with great anticipation to moving up to the next group. In the past, campers have been grouped as follows: The “Littles” are 0-5 years old. The “Middles” are 6-9 years old. The “Tweens” are 10-12 years old. The “Teens” are 13-18 years old. Each of these groups is then sub-divided into younger and older groups, so for instance the younger teens are 13-15 and the older teens are roughly 16 and up. Age groups/ colors may change or be modified based on the number of children in each age group, so please do not promise a particular color or grouping to children without checking in with Pact first. 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 consideration 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 6-9-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 have already achieved by attending earlier. 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 have an alternative schedule for them to promote family attachment. A typical schedule will have parents pick up children who are 4-years-old or younger after lunch, to have family reconnect time (or nap time), and then have the option to return to programming in the late afternoon for parents who choose to do that. The 5-year-olds typically stay in programming until 3:00 pm when they join their parent(s) for family time.

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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 at least two groups (typically 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 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.

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How is programming 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 (21 hours a day, with 3 hours of designated family reconnect time with their parents); this is unlike other campers who return to their parents after the day’s programming is over. Each year some parents tell us they don’t expect their teen will want to live with the other teens and would prefer to stay with them. This is an option they can exercise but it rarely happens – almost all of the teens decide to stay with their peers. They participate in a fun and stimulating program that includes a wide variety of outdoor activities and field trips; 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’s Counselor-in-Training (CIT) Leadership Program is looking for energetic and motivated young adults (ages 18 to 20 years old, with a high school diploma or G.E.D.), who want to learn leadership and job skills while working with young adopted and fostered youth of color at our annual Family Camp. CITs will develop leadership and mentoring skills through direct supervision, regular educational seminars with their CIT Program Coordinator and experts in the fields of adoption, race and child development while engaging in a hands-on experience with young campers. We particularly invite adopted and/or foster-care alum, people of color and other’s personally impacted by adoption and/or foster care to apply.

For more information please visit Pact’s Counselor-in-Training (CIT) Program

Program inquiries can be sent to:

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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 about 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 they make sure the program is inclusive for these children. Non-adopted siblings 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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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 contracts with the camp venues 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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Can we have visitors while we are at Pact Family Camp?

In an effort to provide the best camp experience in the safest environment possible, Pact Family Camp has a No Visitors policy. Camp is a very close-knit and relational community. This bond represents the best aspect of the camp experience, allowing all of us to recognize one another and feel safe as we explore the sometime volatile intersections of adoption, race and family. It also makes our camp a very secure environment. Visitors can jeopardize both of these outcomes.

Sometimes attendees have friends or family in the area they would like to see while they are at Camp. If you would like to see these friends or family while they are visiting the area, we encourage you to extend your stay or meet them off-site.

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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 qualified 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; learning experiences for parents that can be transformative; 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.

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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 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.

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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 who qualify for subsidy 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.

Information about Scholarship Guidelines available here: Pact Camp Scholarship Guidelines.

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