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DEI Update – Letter from the Board

March 2, 2021

Dear Friends,
Racial justice has been at the forefront of the national conversation recently as awareness of systemic racism has grown and stimulated the desire for change. The ACA, New England Board has also been reflecting on our ability and responsibility in this realm. You will recall receiving an email in October in which the Board committed to take action in support of our goal to build a more diverse, inclusive, accessible association, and promised an update in the New Year. We hope you will take a few minutes to read this update, and we invite you to join us in our efforts.
Part of the Board commitment in October was to create a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee to assess our next steps. This committee is currently made up of members of the Board of Directors, and we plan to broaden committee membership as we identify our needs.
The following are the initial overarching goals of the DEI Committee:
  1. Understanding and diversifying our membership, ensuring that all people feel welcomed and included.
  2. Facilitating and engaging in a transparent process of self-reflection for the ACA, New England Board, Staff and the Association, and being a model for our membership in this work. We are committed to using clear and direct language.
We have begun three initiatives to work towards these goals.
  1. Member Survey – This is where YOU come in! All it takes to be part of this journey is 5-10 minutes of your time. You will notice that this survey has a specific focus towards increasing participation by black and brown campers, staff and professionals. Our intention is not to exclude any groups that do not yet feel welcomed and included, but instead to acknowledge that there is not a “one size fits all” solution to inclusion and we want to focus efforts to make a specific impact. (ANY ACA, NEW ENGLAND MEMBER WHO HASN’T COMPLETED THE SURVEY – EMAIL
  2. Conference Outreach – We are reaching out to camps and youth serving organizations working with communities of color, who are not yet engaged in camping or not yet ACA, New England members. We want to share a taste of what we do, invite people in to network with other camp professionals, and to learn ways in which our association may serve their organizations.
  3. Board Workshop – Plans are underway to hire a facilitator to help the Board and ACA, New England professional staff have a common language and understanding, and identify our own biases and blind spots in support of pursuing the goals of this work together.
We recognize that many communities are underrepresented in ACA, New England. Our focus now is on communities of color with the expectation of building upon those experiences to continue our outreach. We believe that everyone should have their voice heard, and we should support those who are calling for change.
In the closing keynote of the ACA National Conference, Dr. Gloria Wilder spoke of the five keys to social justice and she finished with, “The wish I have is that you can harness the strength to work for justice, fight for equity, and practice empathy.” Together, we can begin to make a difference right here in our own association. We hope you’ll join us.
Catriona Logan Sangster & Doug Sutherlarnd
Member ACA, New England Board of Directors and DEI Committee Co-Chairs

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