Fostering an Inclusive Community: Anti-Racism and Diversity at Bayview Glen Camp
This week, our camp team had the privilege of attending the Ontario Camps Association’s Spring into Summer educational series on Anti-Racism at camp. The presenters were insightful, inspiring, and offered practical ways to act on fostering an inclusive camp community.
Before we can even begin to discuss actions we must take to ensure all folks in our community are accepted, included, and celebrated, it’s important to first acknowledge the land Bayview Glen Camp resides on.
Giving a Land Acknowledgement recognizes that we are not the first occupiers of the land and that it was inhabited and cared for by Indigenous peoples for many centuries before the arrival of settlers.
I would like to honour the original people of this land, to say thank you for taking such good care of our mother the earth, so that we could all have a place to call home today. Thank you to the Huron Peoples also known as the Wendat Nation, the Haudenosaunee also known as the Five Nation Confederacy, the Three Fire Confederacy of the Anishnaabe, which includes The Mississauga of the New Credit. These are the original peoples of this land and we as settlers and newcomers have a responsibility to honour these people by acknowledging them and taking good care of this land and each other
Identifying Your Privilege
So where do we start? This work is not easy, and we need to be prepared to be uncomfortable – this is where real learning can happen. Acknowledging and identifying our privileges is a great starting point. These are inherent or acquired characteristics that provide us with an advantage that is beyond our control. These characteristics include, but are not limited to:
· Sexual Orientation
· Socioeconomic Status
It can be uncomfortable or difficult for some folks to identify their privilege because this is the other side of oppression. But the goal here is not to make anyone feel guilty or diminish challenges that we all face. Rather, by confronting our privilege, we can begin to understand how those lacking privilege face oppression, and what we can do to ensure the systems we are born into are fair and equitable for everyone.
We often talk about diversity within our camp community, but what does that mean? What does it look like? At Bayview Glen Camp, we hope to create a safe space where all of our community members are welcomed, included, and celebrated. Part of this includes examining the cultures represented in our spaces and ensuring that we go beyond the surface level of what characterizes those cultures. We tend to think about cultures in terms of what is visible, or at the tip of the iceberg. However, we often forget to delve deeper into learning about why those cultural elements exist. Learning what’s below the surface allows us to work towards cultural appreciation rather than appropriation.
Accessing Your Empathy
One of the most important things we can do as leaders at camp is access our empathy. It’s a core element of what we expect from our staff, and what we hope to foster in our campers. Being able to adopt or understand the perspective of others helps us to recognize what elements of our programs need to change. Do we have a theme day that negatively represents a specific culture? Is there an element of our staff training that unfairly favours a particular group? Are our food options appropriate for everyone? By asking these questions and trying to understand our camp from the perspective of unique identities within our community, we can work towards ensuring Bayview Glen Camp is a safe space for everyone.