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Should I send my child to culture camp?

A reader asks our adult adoptee panel:

My child is approaching an age where I am thinking about sending her to culture camp. Is this something I should pursue or not? Please comment on your feelings about heritage or culture camp, and whether you are glad you went or would have liked to go.

Our panel responds:

I went to camp at 14. I really wanted to be around other Asians and learn their culture and give them a chance to learn mine. Camp helped me realize that I am not alone in my feelings about being adopted. I was comforted to know that others had the same questions and experiences. As a counselor now, attending camp is very rewarding. I enjoy sharing what I have learned with the younger children.
Joseph, 17, adoptee from Thailand

Camp means much more in the later years. When I was younger, I didn't really know that I was Asian, or that I was different. Later, when people started pointing it out to me, I went to camp because I really needed to be there.
Alison, 18, adoptee from Korea

I feel that it is important to go to heritage camp because, in the real world, we minorities are not exposed to our culture like someone who is living it everyday.
Annika, 16, adoptee from India

I wish I had gone to culture camp when I was a young child. Forming friendships with other adoptees would have made it easier to feel comfortable with my situation. For seven years now, I have been a volunteer camp counselor. I like the fact that the camp recruits adopted counselors and staff from diverse backgrounds. Both campers and counselors discuss adoption and racism, and both learn from each other's experiences. Being an understanding friend and role model to these young adoptees leaves me with much joy and gratification.
Jen, 26, adoptee from Vietnam

I like going to camp to learn about my heritage while having fun with friends. I get to spend time with some of my best friends, whom I see once a year, only at camp. Going to culture camp is great because there are people like you, and you get to hang out a lot with them!
Louisa, 14, adoptee from India

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