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Many kids look forward to summer camp each year as a time to learn new things and make new friends. One area summer program began as a way to help internationally adopted children get in touch with their own heritage. Now children of all backgrounds enjoy exploring and learning about Chinese and Asian culture. KSMU’s Theresa Bettmann visited Camp Panda, and has this report.
Most parents who have adopted children from overseas agree that it is important to help their child maintain a sense of their individual cultural heritage. Mandi Moad is director of youth programs at Missouri State University College of Education. She says that Camp Panda initially began as a cultural resource for international adoptive families.
“This is our fourth year with Camp Panda. It originally started as a partnership with International Adoptive Families of Southwest Missouri. We’re partnered with them to start a cultural based programs for children who were adopted internationally so that they can continue to learn their culture, as they learn the American culture as well,” Moad says.
Moad says the camp was originally designed to focus on language, music, dance, and art. She says that three years ago camp organizers also added Kung Fu classes and a cooking class for older children. Chloe is one of the older campers and says that cooking is her favorite camp activity.
“If you are in the oldest group you get to do cooking, and you also get to do a language,” Chloe says.
Music and tradition are an important part of Camp Panda, and children get to sample and play a variety of authentic Chinese instruments. The guzheng is a Chinese string instrument played with finger picks. Chloe explains the hulusi.
“I’m playing the hulusi. It’s a Chinese wind instrument, and we’re playing as a group. And there’s another instrument, and it’s kind of weird because all of the boys are playing the guzheng and all of the girls are playing the hulusi,” says Chloe.
Kids of every age really get into the music classes. Becca has been coming to the camp for the last three years, and says she likes playing the drums.
“Drums and cymbals. Not very loud. I don’t like loud,” says Becca.
Becca says that art is her favorite thing to do at camp. She loves to paint and talks about the fall leaves she painted last year. Becca says she also loves games and Kung Fu because…
“I am super speedy,” says Becca.
Marci Moad says she is glad to see how the group of children who attend has become more and more diverse.
“The program is really neat in itself. It was originally obviously started for a purpose, and that was to bring culture back to students who weren’t learning their own culture. However, as the program has grown it has really tied in our traditional American students, so we’re blending communities,” Moad says.
Camp Panda is part of the Missouri State University Youth Programs. It runs from August 8ththrough the 12th. You can find a link below to more information. For KSMU News, I’m Theresa Bettmann.
Click here to learn more about Camp Panda