DAYTON - More than 100 children adopted from Korea had the opportunity to get a taste of their native land Wednesday.
The kids, from 2-year-olds to college students, were participating in the annual Iowans for International Adoption Korean Adoption Means Pride - KAMP - family camp at Hidden Acres Christian Center south of Dayton.
Seventy-five families who have adopted children from Korea are taking part in KAMP this year. They arrived Tuesday and will stay through Friday.
-Messenger photos by Emilie Nelson
Elliot Johnson, 5, of Davenport, above, devours every bite of his Korean stir-fry during lunch at the Korean Adoption Means Pride family camp at Hidden Acres Christian Center near Dayton Wednesday afternoon. Ethan Scott, 3, of Cedar Rapids, top, checks out a noodle from his plate.
During the week they'll participate in workshops, classes and discussions and pursue Hidden Acres' activities such as swimming, horseback riding, a zipline and climbing wall.
This is the first year KAMP has been held at Hidden Acres. It relocated from the Riverview Conference Center in Cedar Falls.
"We were outgrowing our location," said Michelle Cortlandt, president of Iowans for International Adoption. "We're very grateful to Hidden Acres for letting us be here. It's been wonderful. They have so many activities and so many types of accommodations."
KAMP Director Rachel Snowgren, who has been a part of KAMP for 20 years, has seen the event evolve in those decades.
"A lot has changed, yet a lot of KAMP is still the same," said Snowgren. "My family started coming when I was 6 years old."
But one tradition that has remained is the Korean meal. Parents and high school KAMPers were busy at food stations throughout the facility's main lodge Wednesday morning as they prepared authentic Korean cuisine to be served at noon.
The buffet featured kim chi, which is a spicy cabbage dish, and bulgogi, a grilled, marinated beef dish. There was pa jun, a vegetable pancake, and kimbap, a sushi-like roll, and there were rice and stir-fried noodles.
When it was ready, the KAMPers waited in line for their taste of Korea.
"Everyone loves the meal," said Snowgren. "It's something we all look forward to every year."
John Sheffer, of Hannibal, Mo., prepared the beef for the bulgogi over an open fire grill. He has been attending KAMP for many years with his family, which includes three adopted children and one biological child.
"We've been coming for at least 11 years," said Sheffer.
At a Korean cooking class, some of the younger KAMPers also prepared some of the cuisine, bringing bags of it to lunch with them.
"We made kim chi," said 6-year-old Lucie Scott as she proudly held up a bag of the freshly prepared cabbage dish. "It has fish sauce in it. I had to squeeze that like I was milking a cow."
For Hannah Appenteller, it was easy to choose her favorite dish.
'The meat," she said as she devoured another bite of her bulgogi.
When the announcement that seconds were available, a cheer of excitement rang through the dining hall and KAMPers rushed back to the serving line.
Following the meal, KAMP participants attended sessions on Korean language, native dance and drumming, kite-making and martial arts.
Drum instructor Brooke Newmaster, a past KAMP participant, had a message for all of the adopted KAMPers in attendance at her session.
"Be proud of being American," Newmaster said. "And be proud of your Korean roots."
That's something that Scott, who has three adopted siblings, quickly picked up on.
"It doesn't matter what you are here," said Scott. "You can be American, Korean or even Chinese."