Summer camp teaches Filipino adoptees their culture

Posted at 08/21/2009 2:05 AM | Updated as of 08/04/2010 8:29 PM

COLUMBIA, MARYLAND—For Pat Everett, it has become a tradition for her untraditional family. Every year, for the past 14 years, she and her husband bring her kids to Camp Mabuhay. Two of their three kids were adopted from the Philippines. But the adoption process itself was the easy part. “I may be Filipino,” Everett said, “but I did not grow up with that culture and I did not have that to impart to my children and I thought it was important for them to keep in contact with that.” That is where Camp Mabuhay comes in. Here the children and their parents get immersed in the Filipino culture. The camp also gives families with Filipino adoptees to meet and get to know each other. “Everything we’ve heard and read is that it’s really important for the kids to have that sense of identity, particular as they enter their teenage years,” said adoptive father, Mark Kinsler. “It’s very much like a family and having the kids being able to plug into this is very much a part of the building of a sense of self,” said Gail Pendergrast, co-founder of Camp Mabuhay. The camp lasts 3 days, but families often buy mementos of Filipino culture from the camp’s sari-sari store. The time at the camp may be short, but for the Everett family, Camp Mabuhay has a lasting effect on their children that keeps them coming, despite a two-day road trip to get there. “There is no other Filipino influence throughout the rest of the year. It is something they have come to see. They’ve learned the culture, the traditions. It’s added a whole new dimension…to our family,” Everett said.