Pact Family Camp
The “jewel in the crown” of Pact’s educational programs is Pact Family Camp: a weeklong summer retreat where adopted children of color and their families can share their experiences while learning from experts and each other. Many families have told us that their time at Camp offers them a community they can’t find anyplace else.
At Pact Family Camp, adopted children of color get support making sense of their identity and building strong self-esteem, in an environment where everyone understands the complexity of having two families, as well as the impact of loss and trauma. At Pact Family Camp, adopted children of color are surrounded by role models—other people of color who are adopted or staunch adoption allies—who can help them navigate a society that too often sees them in a negative light or with lowered expectations.
Nestled among the trees near Lake Tahoe, Pact Family Camp offers families not only life-changing learning experiences, but the chance to enjoy comfortable hotel-style accommodations, the warm community of family-style meals, and “just plain fun” activities like playing in the pool, an ice cream social, family movie night, and a family dance party. Join us for a meaningful and fun program for adults and children (ages 0 to 18), as we explore issues of adoption, race and family.
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Who comes to Pact Family Camp? What do they get out of it?Families: 65% of the children at Pact Family Camp are African American, 15% are Latino, 15% are Asian, and 60% have special needs. 40% of the adopted children have been in foster care, 40% placed in private domestic adoptions, 20% are internationally adopted. 7% attend with non-adopted siblings. 20 to 30% are in families with at least one adoptive parent of color. 20% are growing up in single-parent households and 30% in LGBT households. Families attend from all across the country. 25% receive financial assistance in order to attend. Pact Family Camp is a diverse and inclusive community. Click here to see the specific demographics from Pact Family Camp 2015.
Children: Pact campers, from infants to teenagers on the verge of adulthood, spend their days at Pact Family Camp with other kids and camp counselors who are like them in very significant ways. For many kids, Pact Family Camp is the one place where they really feel they belong. From preschoolers to high school students, each group has many opportunities for sharing experiences, making meaningful connections--and having fun! Activities are carefully designed to be age-appropriate, with the older children given progressively more independence, both to spend time with their friends and to explore their emerging thoughts and feelings about adoption and race. Click here for more information about programing for children and youth: 0 to five-years-old (littles), six to nine years old (elementary schoolers), ten to twelve years old (tweens) and thirteen and up (teens).
Adoptive Parents: At Pact Family Camp, adoptive parents of children of color get a rare opportunity to take time out from the rush of everyday life to reflect thoughtfully—in a variety of formats, including keynote lectures, interactive workshops, film screenings, and facilitated group discussions—on parenting, adoption, and race, along with other parents who share their experiences, and expert professionals in the field. At Pact Family Camp, we are particularly committed to ensuring a safe and positive space for adoptive parents of color and their families. We provide a supportive environment for parents of color—we are here to meet the needs of you and your family. We expect that between 25% and 35% of the families in attendance will include at least one adoptive parent of color; the percentage is increasing each year. If you are an adoptive parent of color, serving you and your family is at the core of Pact’s mission. We want to see you at Pact Family Camp and we are committed to making it an experience that will meet your needs. At Pact Family Camp, we are particularly committed to ensuring a safe and positive space for adoptive parents of color and their families Extended family members and birth family members are also welcome to join in the Pact Family Camp experience.
Adult adoptees: Pact welcomes 30-50 adult adoptees of color each year to our Adopted and Fostered Adult “Camp within a Camp.” We welcome adoptee voices and support them as part of our mission. At Camp we offer daily programing specific to adopted and fostered adults of color in addition to the programing available to all adult campers. Many adult adoptees and foster alum tell us that Pact’s Camp within a Camp is the first time they have had the opportunity to be around so many other adults who share their experience. Adopted adults of color are an essential part of Camp, including the renowned adoption professionals, researchers, and authors who speak to and work with both children and parents, as well as many of the counselors in the children's program. These adults play a crucial mentoring role for Pact campers of all ages. At Pact Family Camp, kids who feel different on a daily basis get a chance to be surrounded and validated by people who understand where they are coming from.
Birth/first parents: A growing number of birth/first parents are attending Pact Family Camp; some come with their children’s adoptive families, others without. In keeping with Pact’s values, we include birth/first parents, often the most marginalized members of the adoption triad, not just as one-time guest speakers but as full program participants. We offer specific programing for first/birth parents in addition to the programing available to all adult campers. They also participate in discussions with adoptive parents and the older children. Opportunities for connection between adopted youth and first families are almost non-existent in the adoption world—Pact is paving the way. One mother who came to Pact Camp commented: “As a group, we [birth mothers] felt touched by hearing so many of the adoptive parents acknowledge our presence at Camp as the most meaningful part of their experience this year. We heard the feedback loud and clear that our presence made a difference.” If you are a birth/first parent of an adopted child of color (or you know of one) who is interested in attending, click to learn more about our First/Birth Parent Camp within a Camp.
Most participants have a lot of questions before they sign up for Pact Family Camp. “Is it worth the money? Is this how we want to spend our vacation? Will my kids enjoy it? Will I?” Families who attend once have a return rate of eighty percent. The biggest reason is that children tell their parents that Pact Family Camp is like home for them, a place where they feel safe and strong, able to explore the issues that they are often afraid to talk about at home or with their friends.