2023 SEAPI Camp Recap by Hue Dao
Last month, a small crew of our ATG Tribe was in Estes Park, Colorado at Southeast Asian/Pacific Islander (SEAPI) Heritage Camp, where we taught 6 workshops to Pre-K children all the way up to adoptive parents. This is a camp for families who have adopted kids from countries in Southeast Asia, an opportunity for the families to connect to the heritages of Vietnam, The Philippines, Thailand, Cambodia and the Pacific Islands.
ATG has been supporting and coming to this camp for over 10 summers now. We love seeing the familiar faces of families and reconnecting with our ATG friends near and far. Carol, Loan, Tammy, George and their 3 children flew in from Dallas, Jared from New York, and Hue from Seattle.
The first night where we celebrated Jared’s birthday.
It’s heartwarming to see that parents care so much about their adopted children that they are willing to spend part of their summer immersing themselves in various cultures. The theme at camp this year was “Creating Connections,” so we engaged the 11th and 12th graders at our “Spice Connections” Workshop, where we discussed the influence and history of the spice trade and hand-painted lì xì, which are special red envelopes given during Lunar New Year to children for luck.
We also taught “Gettin’ Saucy with ATG” to the parents, because what better way to bring together a meal than through sauces? The parents had the opportunity to whip together and taste the sauces:
Savory Ginger Scallion, Salt Pepper Lime, Peanut Hoisin Sauce, Nước Chấm and Sweet Coconut Sauce with Sesame Seeds and Peanuts.
We taught another session of sauces with the parents, and then it was off to “Imagine Lil Dragons,” where we told folk stories and crafted dragons with Pre-K and Kindergarteners.
After lunch, we hosted a workshop with 1st-4th graders called “We See You,” where we read and had a deep discussion of the book “What I See: Anti-Asian Racism from the Eyes of a Child” written by Christine T. Leung. It was deeply emotional and heartwarming to hear their thoughts on what they would do in a bullying incident. Together, we drew and put together a banner using symbols of each of us.
Afterward, we cooled off in a fun Songkran water fight, which is a Thai New Year tradition.
That evening we had a gala where we wore our SEAPI finest and presented ATG Heritage Camp Scholarships. Here’s George, Tammy, and their children wearing the traditional Vietnamese áo dài.
We attended the closing ceremony and said our goodbyes.
“I am always grateful to the volunteers and presenters who come to camp. It’s been nice to see that as my kids get older, they become aware of the work and energy that it takes to make camp happen. I feel like ATG and others give so much to our kids by accepting them. I think there are often moments when our kids feel the need to explain their Asian identities, their families, or situations. Having presenters who teach them to be proud of their complicated and nuanced identities is so refreshing for them.” – Kristi Beckman Moya, adoptive parent and SEAPI camp coordinator
“ATG is an organization that we feel unbelievably fortunate to have connected with all those many years ago. Tammy and all of you who are ATG members, have truly made a positive impact on our camp, and such a difference to our campers! Every year that you all attend, what you bring to our camp programming, is incredible, and authentic, and you do an amazing job of working with each of our cultural groups, and all ages of kids (and parents!). My hope is to have ATG involved for as long as SEAPI is standing! In fact, I think ATG will help keep us going strong in the future! We are so grateful to you all!” – Pam Sweetser, Executive Director, Heritage Camp for Adoptive Families and adoptive parent
ATG is honored to be part of this camp and cannot wait to be reunited with our adoptee families again next summer!