By Katie Lofrano
Wendy and Mark Middendorf have two adopted children, and are making sure their two young girls know and understand their heritage.
Their oldest daughter, Nicole, who is now eleven, was adopted from Korea. Danielle, who is now eight, was adopted from China.
The Middendorf family attended a Korean Culture Camp, Camp Choson, which is an annual week long Korean Culture Camp for people primarily in Minnesota and Wisconsin. The camp is specifically designed for adopted Korean-American children, their families, and friends.
The camp convenes in or by the St. Croix River valley, usually over the week of the Fourth of July.
They found out about the camp from another family that has children attending Delano schools James Dahl, whose children, Emily and Michael, have been attending the camp for several years.
Three women from Korea came to help with the camp, which is operated by parent volunteers.
The Middendorfs stayed at a resident camp nearby at night. Nicole, since she is going into sixth grade, was able to spend the last night she was there with the older kids and counselors. Next year, she will get the chance to stay with them every night.
At Camp Choson, the kids are able to participate in activities Monday through Friday. Campers ages 5 to 11 were able to take language and culture (which was taught by volunteers from Korea); self esteem, dance/drum, Taekwondo, music, art (Korean), archery, swimming, market shopping, group activities, and also got to attend a closing ceremony.
Next year, Nicole will be old enough to attend orienteering, ultimate Frisbee, soccer, climbing wall, skits, a dance, Korean movies, boundary breakers, workshops, cooking, and hanging out with all the other kids.
Along with all the classes for the kids, adult workshops were also offered. Dr. Steve Kahn offered two workshops regarding his new book, “Insightful Parenting: Making Moments Count,” helping with parenting children who are adopted.
A media specialist spoke on Korean books, including books for adults, teens, and children. Later in the week, there was also a cooking class, where two dishes were demonstrated and tasted.
The Korean National Anthem (Ae Guk Ga) was sung each morning at the camp. A memory book was made of many pictures, and handed out on the last day of camp. Each day, authentic Korean lunches were served, and participants could also purchase Korean recipe books.
At this camp, there was also a Korean Market that had a variety of Korean snacks and fruit. Costumes and gifts were also available for purchase.
Camp Choson is just like a regular camp for children, but shares Korean traditions and ways. The Middendorfs thought the camp was fun, and said they are planning on going back. They said they met a lot of new friends and enjoyed camping with them.
“I thought it was really fun, and I loved to bug the counselors with the other kids,” said Nicole.
The Middendorf family loves to travel. In February, they went to Arizona, in March they traveled to Florida, and last summer, the Middendorfs went to Korea. They have also been to China.
Nicole, who has been dancing for a long time, is now going to go to a Chang Mi Korean dance and drum class in St. Paul that she is very excited about.