OC happily welcomed 110 people from 35 countries at its 12th annual Global Reunion Camp this week. The camp exists to help missionary and military families returning to the United States from other countries.
Participants will conclude the camp with a flag ceremony honoring all 35 countries at 11 a.m. Friday at OC’s Student Center.
The camp includes three tracks: one for children age 5-12, another for teens and young adults and another for parents. Directors Kent and Nancy Hartman, missionaries-in-residence at OC, give tools and resources to families that have lived outside the United States and are now seeking to reenter U.S. culture. The Hartmans spent more than 17 years as missionaries in Australia and were surprised by the challenges of reintegrating their family into America.
“Missionary and military families returning to the United States often feel overwhelmed,” Kent Hartman said. “For many, especially children, their home country is the one in which they have spent the least amount of time. For others, their country is not the same as when they left.”
These mixed feelings can be confusing for children, who are often known as Third Culture Kids.
“When missionaries and military families come back, their kids aren’t sure if they are coming home or leaving home,” Nancy Hartman said.
At Global Reunion, campers learn to deal with the grief, hidden losses, identity confusion and divided loyalties that can accompany cross-cultural moves. The camp is also filled with fun activities that will help the campers embrace their situation and thrive in it.
In addition to OC, Global Reunion is co-hosted by the Memorial Road church of Christ and InterMission, a group of former missionaries committed to supporting missionaries. InterMission was co-founded by the Hartmans and Memorial Road. There are also many volunteers from local churches who provide meals for the campers.
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In recent years, OC has had an increase in the number of TCKs who call OC home. More than 60 students meet during the year, often with the Hartmans. They enjoy activities and relationships for successful living in their world of changing cultures and transitions. More information about the camp and program can be found at www.oc.edu/tck.