Letter from the Board – BLM@Camp
November 9, 2020
To our colleagues and friends in the camp community,
The Board of Directors of American Camp Association (ACA), New England, believes that Black Lives Matter. The important and essential work of creating inclusive communities is what camp is good at. We also know we need to do better. Our goals, mission, and visions of what camp should be include supporting everyone who walks through the gates or up the road.
We talk about camp as a respite from the “real world,” but the real world presents itself at camp, too. And then our campers, staff members, and families go home. What they learn at camp goes with them. Their camp experiences and the skills they gain influence and guide them throughout their lives.
Camps, by their very nature, can be agents of change. We strive to create communities that are inclusive. If we believe that everyone should be treated fairly and have their voice heard, we must listen to those who are calling for change.
ACA New England is taking our first two steps now to support the camp community in New England in creating communities that are truly spaces for all, particularly focused on our black and brown colleagues, staff, campers, and families.
- We are sharing the BLM@Camp Day of Action on November 19 with you. Participation is a vital first step in sharing our commitment to becoming a truly inclusive space for our black and brown campers, families, and staff. We encourage you to participate and share the day of action broadly with your community. Suggestions are listed on the website BlackLivesMatteratCamp.com. Use hashtag #BLMatCamp.
- We are creating a task force that will formulate a clear plan of action. We can take action as an association to provide better educational opportunities and create more spaces in which to share experiences so that the camp community as a whole can continue to learn and grow together. We will educate ourselves about where we miss the mark. Then we will make an action plan for improvement. We will deliver a draft plan to our members by the end of January. Our actions will grow from there to include more camps and more campers.
Our hope is for a future in which we won’t need to focus on BLM@Camp or on race as a stand-alone issue. As an organization, we want diversity, equity, and inclusion to be built into our communities and work, but we are not there yet. We have a lot of work to do before we are.
So now we will do what camp people do! We will make a plan, and we will take action with open hearts and open minds. We will work on opening our communities so that all feel heard and seen, and so that all have a true sense of belonging. The safety and well-being of all individuals must be at the forefront of our professional and personal lives.
We believe that camp transforms individuals and that individuals transform the world. Let’s do this.
Yours in camping,
American Camp Association, New England
Board of Directors