29
Apr
11

To Camp or Not to Camp?

So summer is almost upon us, and people are contemplating their summer plans.  For many adoptive families those plans include a trip to a heritage/culture or adoptee camp. Early on we thought we’d be one of those families who attended heritage camp each year. We have one that’s held every summer only a couple of hours from our house so it seemed like a no-brainer.

But the first year or two there wasn’t any programming for J. He would have been in daycare while we attended seminars so we decided to wait until he could actually participate in camp-related activities. Then financing became a problem and unemployment meant that camp wasn’t an option. Which brings us to this year, and ironically I have to say that the couple who was thrilled with the idea of heritage camp a few years ago will again not be attending heritage camp. Why this time, you ask? Well, after running the numbers it just doesn’t make financial sense to us.

Here’s a little background. This month J started taekwondo at a dojang with a Korean American instructor that is attended by several Korean American families, and we were given the opportunity to try out our local Korean American school for the remainder of the semester at no cost. So far J is loving both of these opportunities that put him in contact with other Korean Americans on a daily and weekly basis. If we continue Korean school in the fall when the new semester starts, we’d like the whole family to attend given that the school is willing to have an adult beginner’s language course. And, while taekwondo isn’t the cheapest sport out there, we love that it provides a the connection to Korean culture, allows J to learn Korean words, and we believe it’s making a huge difference for J to be around other Korean Americans on a regular basis. He’s figuring out that he’s not alone here as the sole Korean American in our community, which is how I think he felt prior to these opportunities coming along. Eventually my husband and I would like to start taekwondo too.

But both of these opportunities cost money, as does camp. So I priced everything out for our family. What I found was that this year camp would cost approximately $970 for our family of three, including the camp fees, lodging, and meals. (If we tent camped during camp, instead of staying at the lodge, it would be around $460, which is better but still… .) Those figures do not include gas to get to camp, any purchases made at the Korean market they have each year, or any other incidental expenses.

So those “four” days of culture camp (staying at the lodge) would cost the equivalent of eight months of taekwondo (at full price without discounts they offer) or one-and-a-half years of attending Korean school for our whole family. (Even if we tented camped the cost of culture camp would equal almost four months of taekwondo at the full price or one semester of Korean school for our whole family plus an additional semester for one family member.)

If money were no object–if, for instance, our family won the lottery–I’d say we do it all. But given that money is an object, I think we have to get the most bang for our buck. And that just doesn’t seem to be culture camp, at least not the one closest to us. “Four” days of camp is really more like one-and-a-half to two days of actual programming, when you factor in registration day and free time you’re allotted to do recreational things as a family. The camp is run by adoptive parents, which isn’t bad, but I’d personally like it better if the local Korean American community had a leadership role in the camp (local Korean Americans are invited as guests and participate, but to my knowledge don’t help plan the programming). A couple of great things about camp include the camp counselors, who are all adult adpotees, and meeting many other families just like ours. But the likelihood that those families live in our community isn’t great from the stats that I’ve heard, and we have a local program through which we can interact and get to know adult adoptees.

While I’m sure we’d all have a good time at camp, and I don’t dispute it has merit, it just seems like taekwondo and Korean school can provide more for our family right now. Five-day-a-week taekwondo classes and weekly classes at our local Korean school give us regular opportunities to meet and interact with Korean American families in our area, which is one thing we think is really missing for our family. In addition to learning a sport, language, and culture, we’re hoping to make lasting connections and friendships through these opportunities.

Only time will tell at this point. Maybe this time next year, I’ll be back on this blog touting what a wonderful and irreplaceable opportunity heritage camp is. But for now we’re going to stick with the local opportunities that have presented themselves and see where they lead. I’ll keep you updated.


1 Response to “To Camp or Not to Camp?”


  1. May 5, 2011 at 6:02 pm

    I read the original post but not the commentary on a forum. It has made me think. The question it leaves me with is then, do I not adopt? Much easier to accept the conclusion if it is already too late and now I just have to mitigate the pain as best as I can. I would love to have feed back from all adult adoptees–good or bad–to get a feel for if this is a deal breaker. I wonder how much it changes when the parents have bio kids but never struggled with infertility. Lots to ponder…not many answers.


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