A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of volunteering at a weekend long camp for families with adopted kids. The camp started on a Thursday evening with opening ceremonies and concluded on a Sunday morning. The camp was attended by about 50 families, all of whom had chosen to adopt a child domestically within the United States. While this was my first time attending the camp, most of the families had been attending for many years and look forward to returning for many more. Some families lived locally and some travelled across the country to attend. Kids were broken up into groups based on age and assigned to counselors. I, along with two other volunteers, was assigned to the 7 and 8 year olds. There were 12 adopted kids in our group. Some of the kids knew each other from previous years and were comfortable jumping right into the rhythm of things. Others, like me, were new and nervous about what to expect. I had an image in my mind of what a camp counselor should be. Someone who is just a natural with kids. Someone who the kids would instantly cling too and never want to leave their side. Someone who could come up with super fun, age appropriate games and activities at the drop of a hat and all the kids would cheer. I was very aware, that none of those described me. I was really nervous that the kids wouldn’t like me and I would be a camp counselor dud. While I attended summer camps as a child, I never made the leap to counselor like my sister did. So at 33 years old, I was returning to camp. Along with general nerves, each kid came with a short bio: name, age, where they live, behavioral issues, and diagnoses. More to come on this in part 2. While I entered the adventure with no confidence in myself, I should have had confidence that kids would be kids. While a couple stayed on the outskirts with trepidation, most of the kids joined in excitedly. Before I had memorized all of their names, they were fighting over who got to hold my hand while walking to the next activity.
Adoption camp was amazing! The kids participated in a circus, learning how to tumble, juggle, and do magic tricks. There were arts and crafts, board games, a scavenger hunt, tag, and even some time to sit together and talk about what it means to be adopted. By the end of the first day, I was truly exhausted. I went home with a newfound appreciation for school teachers. I simply do not know how they do it every single day. I wasn’t sure how I was going to get through day 2! The experience was rewarding in many ways and I plan to volunteer again at another camp next year.