Parents who don't adopt from other countries, cultures or nationalities may not realize how important culture camp is. It's hard to explain or completely understand how important it is until you see the look on a child's face as they explain to others what it means to be from their culture. I see the pride when my children talk about Ethiopia or share an Ethiopian story with their friends. Even my youngest son (who was born in the US) is proud of his brother's Ethiopian heritage and used to try to convince people he was also born in Ethiopia. Jacob could find Ethiopia on a map when he was 3 and both of my kids can tell you what time it is in Ethiopia.
So why is culture camp a priority? After all, my kids are already proud of our connection to Ethiopia. Here are some reasons.
1) Other families that look like ours. It is one of the few places we go where Matthew is in the racial minority and almost all of the families are multiracial.
2) We aren't a conspicuous family where people make assumptions about us based on our different skin colors. Everyone knows we are a family formed by adoption and celebrates it with us. We don't have to fight stereotypes or respond to people asking questions about if Jacob is Matthew's friend and how great it is that he gets to spend so much time with him. They all know the kids are brothers.
3) We see adults, children and teenagers who were born in Ethiopia and who all love the culture and country. There is no better way to learn about another country and culture than to hear about it from people who have lived there.
4) Everyone there is learning from each other. We are all there for the same reasons. To make friends, learn about Ethiopia and have fun.
5) No negative stereotypes. My children are exposed to the same media that everyone else is. Pictures of children starving, reports of disease and comments from people who have no understanding but are quick to judge people who live differently than the way we live in the USA. At camp, everyone is accepting and loves Ethiopia and the information shared is based on facts and not stereotypes. We leave camp proud of Ethiopia and ready to share and educate others when they make comments based on media reports and not true life.
6) We leave camp with new friends, stronger connections to old friends and a reminder of how lucky we are to have been touched by Ethiopia. Not too mention on blessed we are to be a family.
There are camps and organizations around the country. None of the camps are cheap but the lessons we learn are priceless. I encourage anyone who's family has children from different cultures or countries to look into a cultural camp near you. Or even one you can travel to. You will not be sorry.