Simcoe County Adoption Connections Youth/Family Camping Weekend
The fifth annual camping weekend took place on June 21-23, 2019 and once again it was a huge success. The idea for a camping weekend originated with the adopted youth group from Simcoe County as a way to kick off the summer! The first year saw 35 people, including parents and kids, pitch their tents in a beautiful wooded spot at the bottom of a hill at a group camp site on a Saturday afternoon.. Shortly after set up, the downpour of rain began! The weather could not dampen the spirits of this group and the laughter began, games were played and parents and kids formed new friendships and built on existing ones. Everyone pitched in to help each other, tarps were put up, group cooking took place and we even managed to have a camp fire, under the tarp! There was a true sense of community and I don’t think we really realized what was taking place. For a moment in time, we were all the same … kids were kids and parents were parents. There were no struggles, no issues, no challenges ... just pure happiness despite the rain!
Fast forward to today where we have just come back from the camping weekend. This year, 70 people registered. We now camp from Friday to Sunday and some kids were asking if we could have a week long camping event! We are now at the top of the hill and tents and campers line up along the edge and in the middle is a huge field where the kids gather and play. There are many familiar faces that attend and some new ones. Many of the families only camp this one time! This year we had families from London, Kitchener, Toronto, Brampton, and Mississauga join our Simcoe County families. Many families heard about the camping weekend from our Pathways training and wanted to join us.
This community continues to grow and what we all witness is magic! Seeing and hearing the kids laughing, the older youth reconnecting as if time had not gone by, parents sharing, supporting and lots of laughter and giggles. Everyone looking out for each other and their kids truly is an experience that can not be forgotten. Every year it appears to get better and we continue to build on what we started 5 years ago. This is a place where everyone is the same, every one is included. The older kids organize and lead the events, and are role models for all of us. They give freely of their time and energy to ensure that everyone is connected. You will often see the little ones attached to their sides. They do this and so much more and ask for nothing in return.
This year at the camp fire we saw one of our youth play her guitar with a parent accompanying her on his ukulele and another leading us in the singing. It brings so much joy to see families being families. There are always so many memorable moments and the highlight for me this year was witnessing the uniqueness of openness. One of our families included the birth mom in the weekend. It was a good lesson for some of us who may struggle with this. Words can not describe the beauty that we all witnessed and how it just seemed so right.
As adoptive parents, we often are faced with many intrusive questions, unsolicited advice and most of all judgement. Our kids also face those same issues and often don’t know what to do with that. We do our best to teach and protect our children and prepare them for the future. I believe that what we started 5 years ago with a simple camping event was actually the start of a magical experience for all of us. As one parent said, “This weekend helped me to see that we are all the same … parents are parents and kids are kids!” THAT IS THE MAGIC … we see each other as parents and most of all we see our kids as kids … not kids of loss and trauma … just as kids!! We will continue to build on this magic and I look forward to see what next year brings!
Happy Summer Everyone!
Author: Sylvia Gibbons, PACT Parent Liaison