While Pact Camp, in Loma Mar, California, looks typical — there’s a kids’ ropes course, teen community-building activities, a family dance party, and other fun stuff — our goal is not run-of-the-mill at all.
Five years ago, we started the camp to explore adoption, race, and parenting in transracial families. Parents of transracially adopted children ask: “Does my child feel comfortable in her skin? Is she being discriminated against? Where are the role models for her? Have I done enough to help her feel proud of who she is?”
During camp, we discuss race and racism openly and honestly with parents and children. Parents learn strategies to help their child: how to find mentors, ensure that he finds friends of his race, and teach what to do when faced with racism.
We tackle tough questions, such as, “Is my child being sent for remedial work at school because of her race? How do I know? If it’s true, how do I deal with it?” Parents tell us that talking about such issues with staff, other parents, and transracially adopted adults can be a transformative experience.
Every white parent of a child of color must challenge themselves to understand how racism affects their children every day. Developing the strength to deal with it, and assessing how each incident should be handled, is the work of a lifetime.