Tuesday, June 26, 2012

camp fun (dragons & ♥)

For the fourth year in a row, Cowgirl and I have headed to Colorado for Chinese adoption heritage camp. Initially, we went out to spend time with friends we have known since our families were formed almost six years ago in China. 

This was our third year attending Heritage Camps and it is now a tradition for us to make this journey every year.  The highlight of the weekend for my girl is the time she gets to spend with the energetic and enthusiastic counselors, young adults who share with her the experience of international adoption. 


It is an exhausting but rich experience.  In addition to classes geared toward Chinese culture, there are crafts, field day, and a session where the children have an opportunity to discuss with their peers their feelings regarding adoption.  For the adults there are workshops and panel discussions with adult adoptees, licensed child/family therapists as well as sessions covering Chinese culture and traditional medicine.  It is a chance to gather new tools and resources as we wade into uncharted emotional territory.  I am grateful for the generosity of so many young people who are reaching out to support our children. (An incredible resource is this website created by two Korean adoptees who offer free support for families both online and in person as they travel to events like Heritage Camp speaking to young adults and parents.)  

The overall tone of the weekend is one of chaotic play as the kids spend hours away from their parents and in the care of patient and able-bodied counselors. 

Parents participate in camp and this year I was enlisted to help make not one, but multiple dragons!  I helped Cowgirl's group make dragon puppets ...


...  which they quickly turned upon their counselor.

I assisted the middle schoolers in making 3 large dragons for the end of camp parade.  Cowgirl's group raised the most funds for the camp charity and were the first to perform a dragon dance with their creation.


The highlight of camp is the dim sum farewell gathering where Cowgirl makes the rounds sitting in the laps or climbing on the backs of her favorite counselors. Her favorite is the young man who was her counselor for her first camp 3 years ago.  

Apparently there was a surreptitious "half belly kiss" delivered while saying goodbye and my girl and her best friend reenact the giddy moment. (I remember how they used to declare that they would marry each other ... oh, how quickly they grow up!)

There is much to digest emotionally, and slowly deeper issues rise to the surface as we process our mutual camp experiences.  I am grateful for the friends my daughter and I share, for their love and support as we unravel our family's story.  

We are blessed to have their presence in our history ... and in our future. 

(Any pictures of the mommies wait patiently upon our girl's disposable cameras, although I suspect we may have been overlooked in the glee of photographing their beloved counselors!) 


  1. I can't imagine doing camp without you! The chaos, the emotions, and the fun wouldn't be the same if you and Cowgirl weren't right there with us. These pictures brought tears to my eyes. I imagine our girls sharing special moments together as they grow up and I am so grateful for the bonds we have with you. Our girls might never marry each other, but they will continue to create traditions and cherish their friendship long after we are too old to chase after them with the cameras. Thank you for making the effort to come out here; thank you for accompanying us to camp; and most of all, thank you for your love and friendship.

  2. These photos brought a tear to my eye. What an incredible gathering.
    And what a lucky little cowgirl to have a mama who knows how vital these things are for a rich and complex and nuanced life.

  3. I love your words and photos - you have a fabulous eye to capture the special moments. Beautiful! Thanks for the visits and nice comments.