By Tadias Staff
Published: Sunday, July 26th, 2015
New York (TADIAS) — Mekdes Bekele launched the Ethiopian Heritage and Culture Camp in July 2009 to connect like-minded parents raising Ethiopian American children. A mother herself Mekdes says “Whether adoptive or biological, we have the common goal of raising first generation Ethiopian Americans.” The summer camp celebrates its seventh anniversary this year and it “is designed for the entire family,” Mekdes adds. “There are age-appropriate activities that will appeal to both parents and their youngsters.”
Adoptive mother Julie Caran agrees. She says that each summer she and her husband come with their son to the Massaneta Springs camp and conference center in Harrisonburg, Virginia because they want their Ethiopian-born child to remain connected to his heritage and culture. “Ethiopian American volunteers come to camp because they wish they had something like this when they were our children’s age,” she wrote. “We all want these children to know who they are, and what it means to be Ethiopian.” Caran adds: “Yes, we get to attend excellent workshops to learn about everything from history to hair and art to Amharic, but something more important occurs at camp: We gain perspective. We interact inter-generationally and converse with children, teens, young adults, middle-aged adults, and grandparents.”
This year the camp program includes special guest Menlik Zergabachew. “Menlik, an Ethiopian-American singer and leader of the Reggae band The Relics, will join us at camp to perform with his band,” Mekdes said in a statement. “Menlik competed and had a successful run on NBC’s THE VOICE this last season.” In addition, the camp director points out that a “cooking lesson is being provided by Simret Hunt — noteworthy because Simret was a young 14-year-old when she attended our first heritage camp back in 2009. She is now a rising sophomore in college and we are fortunate to have her join us as a volunteer handling the cooking lessons.”
You can learn more about the Ethiopian Heritage and Culture camp at www.heritageandculturecamp.org.