About Sejong Camp
Sejong Camp was founded in 1992 in direct response to the LA Riots by Lindy Gelber to empower Korean-American and adopted Korean-American children. Sejong Camp has grown into one of the premier Korean culture camps in America. Campers come from New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Maryland, New England, Virginia, Illinois and as far away as Korea each year.
The one-week sleepover camp offers a unique camp experience for boys and girls, age 6 through 16. The small size of the camp – no more than 100 campers – and our counselor-to-camper ratio of roughly one counselor for every two campers come back year after year and many elect to stay on afterwards as assistant counselors and counselors.
Located at the Happiness is Camping campgrounds in western New Jersey, close to the Delaware Water Gap, the camp offers state of the art facilities providing comfortable air-conditioned buildings with modern bathrooms, a swimming pool, zip-line, adventure course, playing fields, boating, basketball court, spacious and air-conditioned indoor gym, and art and performance space.
Why Sejong Camp ?
Internationally-adopted and Korean-American children straddle two different worlds: American culture and lifestyle, but Korean by birth. Most of these children have never been back to Korea and many have had little or no contact with other Korean-Americans.
Sejong Camp provides an opportunity for Korean-American children and adoptees to connect to and feel a sense of pride in their Korean heritage.
This one-week program gives them a chance to be with kids who have to deal with the same racial and identity issues in life. It is critical to realize that our children will neither be seen as, nor treated as Caucasian in their adult life. Empowering them to deal with difficult issues enhances their self-esteem. At Sejong Camp, questions are answered, a feeling for their place in the world is enhanced and an appreciation for Korean culture is developed, all in a safe and nurturing environment. Korean-American and adoptive Korean-American parents love Sejong Camp because their children emerge truly enriched by the experience. But if you ask our campers, they’ll tell you the best part of Sejong Camp: It’s FUN!
Camp Director Benjamin Kim Oser
Benjamin Oser has been involved with Sejong Camp since 2012, first as a counselor and then as a leadership team member, and been involved with adoption organizations throughout his life. Benjamin was adopted through the Holt International Adoption Agency as an infant and was involved in their summer programs until he was old enough to be a counselor in early 2000's. In addition, Benjamin has been involved with adult adoptee organizations, such as Also-Known-As and IKAA, and been a part of the international IKAA conference in Seoul, summer of 2010. Always curious about his culture and identity, upon graduation of his master's program, he set out to explore and moved to Korea in the fall of 2009. There he taught English in the public school system, both primary and secondary education, in the province of Chungcheongbuk-do. While discovering his own identity as Korean adoptee, it was by chance that had the opportunity to find and meet his birth parents and their families. He has since returned in 2012 and has been active with Sejong Camp. He currently works for Drexel University in their Office of Campus Engagement, where he serves as the primary resource for the commuter and off-campus student populations.
What makes Sejong Camp special?
Through our camp director, Benjamin Oser and his leadership team, our camp is able to recruit, train, and collaborate with teachers from Korea and the States – including artist, dancers, athletes and musicians - all who have offered their time to make Sejong Camp a meaningful and memorable experience.
Our camp program seeks out special and unique instructors to fulfill the roles of educators at our camp. We want to provide a strong cultural foundation for our campers by instituting authentic curriculum and cultural education through our programs, all of which can not be done with strong instruction.
Many of our staff members are former campers turned mentors. At Sejong Camp we pride ourselves on the continued involvement of our former campers and their passion for the camp program and it's meaningful value to future generations of campers. We are building a strong mentorship program that highlights our older staff members to work and train with our younger staff members as a replication of our camp model - being able to build closer relationship with people of shared experiences. In addition, we openly recruit outside leaders to take on roles and provide unique perspective and insight on their own experiences and how it helps to shape their identity.
Our ESTEEM Program
The Camp’s regular staff always includes an onsite psychologist, experienced in international adoption and identity issues. That psychologist with the help of tenured campers, program assistants and counselors, conducts workshops during the week that really delve into the issues pertaining to race, identity, and our communities. It allows for the campers, and staff, to think more intrinsically how their appearance, lifestyle, and upbringing plays roles in how they view themselves. In addition, campers learn about self-esteem and are given the tools to address racial, adoption and identity issues that they will face during their lives.
Visits by Korean-American Role Models
Our camp is fortunate to have adult Korean role models visit and spend their time with our kids. Past Camp visitors include Major League baseball player Chan Ho Park, Olympic skater Lilly Lee, author Marie Lee, Olympic skiing champion Toby Dawson, Senator of Washington state Paul Shin, 9/11 hero David Lim, comedian Paul Kim, illustrator Chris Soenpoint, Ahn Trio, and NHL Stanley cup winner Jim Paek.
In addition, we have had the fortune of having a growing relationship with the Korean American Law Enforcement Association (KALEA). This organization has been a huge success in kicking off our week long evening programs with fun and interactive field games. They have also been incredibly generous in their donations of snacks and water for our campers throughout the week.
What happens at Sejong Camp?
The camp week begins on Sunday afternoon and ends the following Saturday morning, with a presentation by the campers that highlights the many new skills they have learned.
During the week the campers’ activities include:
- Adventure course
- Creative Writing
- Tae Kwon Do
- Zip Line
FOX5 NY Feature
Even more recently, in 2015 the FOX 5 News team, with Christina Park, visited camp to MC our Saturday Showcase. See our very own article here.
Korean American Story (KSA) Feature
Members of our camp have also been featured in the Korean American Story's Legacy Project, found here. One video from their project is featured below.