“Camp Fire Central Puget Sound affirms that Black Lives Matter. We promise to do our best to, and to continue to learn how to, be a part of the work to eliminate structural racism and white supremacy in all of the spaces of our camp and the rest of our lives.”
Today is a day of action. We’re joining Camps across the nation to say Black Lives Matter at Summer Camp. While there is so much to do to make summer camps more equitable, we’re taking an opportunity to unabashedly declare and echo what many have been saying for years and years: Black Lives Matter.
We also want to share how we’re underpinning this. When we say “Black Lives Matter” it is simply that; a statement. While this assertion is an important one to make, it is necessary to back that up with real efforts to create a more just and equal program and organization. Here’s the work that we’re up to:
- We’re in the process of recruiting Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) board members to more accurately reflect the communities we serve. We hope, by the end of our search, to have a board that consists of at least 40% BIPOC. When the top leadership of our organization mirrors the families we serve now, and hope to serve in the future, it allows for a cultural responsiveness that is working to eliminate structural inequities.
- Secondly, in the spirit of recruitment, we’re intentionally reaching out to places where we haven’t usually turned to in searching for potential Camp staff. These places include Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), community centers, community colleges, Black student unions and community spaces.
- When hiring staff, it’s important that our interview and hiring process is one that prioritizes diversity and inclusion. This means asking new and different questions, as well as revising current questions, and considering on how our implicit bias can interfere with finding, hiring, and retaining quality staff with so much to offer our organization.
- Finally, for the first time in a while, we’re taking a long look in the mirror. We’re auditing all aspects and parts of our programs (Overnight Camp, Day Camp, and Group Program) to investigate where we might find culturally insensitive or appropriative traditions, activities, references, etc. It’s important to be honest with ourselves, and not stick to tradition for the sake of tradition. We expand, grow, and learn when we evaluate what we’ve done and how we can do better.
Summer Camp is an evolving industry. Camps offer universal skill building like leadership, compassion, and stewardship. It’s vital to address our shortcomings and growth opportunities with urgency. We hope that you join us in this concerted effort to learn how we can do better, and evolve as an organization.