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Heritage Camps for Adoptive Families, Inc. serves as a post adoption resource and advocate for children and families with diverse heritages.
We accomplish this by facilitating annual heritage camps, which provide culturally relevant and family-centered experiences for every member of the family.
These camps provide an opportunity to share in a common experience that fulfills a sense of community and individual identity. It is our hope that every adopted child will leave a heritage camp knowing more about who they are and where they came from, and that every member of the family will have a better awareness of and sense of pride in their adopted child's birth heritage. The camps let children and families relish in being part of a larger group "just like themselves."
Heritage Camps for Adoptive Families (HCAF) exists to support the healthy development of families formed by adoption, and to promote the successful transition of adopted children into healthy, confident, well-grounded adults who are proud of themselves, their families, and their heritage.
No other such resource exists in Colorado. HCAF started in 1991 with one summer heritage camp held for 60 families with children adopted from Korea. We incorporated as a nonprofit in 1995, and have grown to serve close to 900 families annually from across the nation at our ten heritage camps: African/Caribbean, Cambodian, Chinese I and II, Filipino, Indian/Nepalese, Korean, Latin American, REECA (Russian/Eastern European/Central Asian), and Vietnamese. Current research in adoption supports HCAF’s approach to social integration and self-esteem building: more than just an annual vacation for adoptive families, HCAF provides lasting community networks, meaningful cultural connections, and targeted information and referrals.
Since our incorporation in 1995, HCAF’s Executive Director Pam Sweetser has provided vital leadership and management to the organization, initially on a volunteer basis. With eight other adoptive parents, Pam served on the first Board of Directors, and was the sole HCAF staff member from her appointment as Executive Director in 1995 (a position that was unpaid until 1998), until 2005, when the first part-time support employee was hired. To date, HCAF’s streamlined staff has grown to 1 full time, 1 half time, and 1 part-time, but the bulk of the organization’s extensive operations has always been handled by volunteers. HCAF’s cadre of volunteers includes camp parent participants, community volunteers, camp alumni, and others annually totaling over 2,500 individuals contributing over 650,000 volunteer hours! Without our volunteers, we simply would not be able to exist!
With a strong history of smart growth, financial stability, and volunteer investment - plus the passionate involvement of our campers - HCAF has made a difference in the lives of thousands of participating children and their families over 20 years.
- Shannon Lawrence
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