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.
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Who Comes to Pact Family Camp? What do they get out of it?Families: Sixty-five percent of the children at Pact Family Camp are African American, 15% are Latino, 15% are Asian, and 60% have special needs. Twenty percent are growing up in single-parent households and 30% in LGBT households. Forty percent of the adopted children have been in foster care, forty percent placed in private domestic adoptions, twenty percent are internationally adopted. Seventy-five percent of the children are being parented transracially; 25% are in families with at least one parent of color. Seven percent attend with non-adopted siblings. Families attend from all across the country. Twenty-five percent receive some financial assistance in order to attend.
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.
Adult adoptees: Adopted adults of color are an essential part of Pact Family 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. Pact Family Camp is also a place where adopted adults enjoy connecting with and supporting each other.
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. Extended family members and birth family members are also welcome to join in the Pact Family Camp experience.
Most parents 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.