“CELEBRATION” – the perfect theme for this 2022’s Southeast Asian/Pacific Islander Heritage Camp (SEAPI). On July 28 – July 31, 2022, ATG Ambassador Carol Nguyen and previous ATG Service Sponsor Luwan Hy traveled to the YMCA in Estes Park to be presenters at the 24th anniversary for the Vietnamese and 6th SEAPI camp. After 2 years of virtual gatherings, they were finally able to reunite with our family at Heritage Camp for Adoptive Families.
Opening Ceremony air was electric, as 82 campers, 22 counselors, parents and presenters gathered face-to-face to begin the weekend’s adventures. The excitement, joy, and anticipation in everyone’s eyes were endearing and contagious.
Carol and Luwan presented an arts and crafts workshop entitled, “Knot Again.” Seven groups of campers, from pre-kindergarten through high school, were guided through the art of creative stone wrapping. Binding smooth rocks with colorful twine allowed them to be creative, but it also required mindfulness and focus, bringing life and levity to an elementally grounded object.
For 50 minutes, they experienced a progression of emotions, as designs were considered and problem areas were solved. Eagerness to start led to frustration as they learned to work with the materials for the first time.
Then, focus would turn to despair as their waxed twine would inevitably slip off the smooth edges of their stones, finally culminating in the “aha!” moment, once they figured out the correct tension to use. The pride they displayed for their finished products was heartwarming.
The ATG duo were kept busy at every moment, but they were able to keep their energy up with the Vietnamese coffee they enjoyed daily out of mugs that were hand painted by one of the campers. They even made time to attend and assist other presentations, especially the dancing workshops. Sharing a cabin with the Kaba Modern “KM Legacy” hip hop team from California meant they even got a preview of some of the performances!
The most memorable moments were the Boodle Fight – hosted by the Filipino-American Community of Colorado, and the epic Songkran – the splashy Thai New Year celebration and final activity during camp. After a long weekend of hiking and learning, the campers were quick to target their counselors with water balloons and water canons. Not a shirt was spared during this outdoor battle!
Saturday night’s Gala brought everyone together again for dragon, lion, and hip hop performances, a dance party, and a super competitive silent auction. The team even won a few of the larger prizes and gifted them to the aunties who prepared the Boodle Fight.
On our last morning, a few campers helped us repurpose leftover stones into a mini zen garden. The Closing Ceremony ended with the traditional Happy Adoption Day song sung by all the campers and followed by a slideshow of the weekend’s activities. Poignant and candid, there was not a dry eye left the stage. Incredibly fun and impactful, gears are already spinning on what to expect next year!