Wyonegonic was founded on the principle of giving young women fuller and healthier lives through recreation in the outdoors, developing life skills and community engagement. Our philosophy involves actively creating a culture of acceptance and inclusion while focused on personal growth and enriching experiences.
We are responding to the gravity of the events unfolding across the country and the outrage so many of us are feeling regarding the continued presence of systemic racism facing the Black and Indigenous communities. We are confronted by the fact that Wyonegonic’s historical community has had limited representation of people of color. Wyonegonic, along with many of those in the camping industry, has been mostly represented by white experiences. Over the past several years, we have begun to raise this topic, both internally and externally – emphasizing that inclusion and diversity are essential for a successful camp experience.
While we hope those who have experienced Wyonegonic believe that our camp is tolerant and welcoming, we need to acknowledge that there are parts of the culture of Wyonegonic that may not feel inviting. Perhaps, as a fairly close-knit group, our community carries an implicit bias.
To the members of the BIPOC community in our Wyonegonic family, we stand with you. We support you. We join with our alumnae who are speaking up, and who are leading the way for change. As summer camp professionals, we believe in the power of camp and feel it is necessary for us to affirm that Black Lives Matter, as it is at the core of our identities and values.
Wyonegonic welcomes campers and staff from all countries, religions, races and cultures. Explicit and implicit racism, or any kind of discrimination has no place in our community. Personally and professionally, we need to continue to be active in creating a culture of acceptance and inclusion. We acknowledge that Wyonegonic represents multiple generations and that personal beliefs will vary. We are all growing and as a community, we depend on one another.
Our active steps going forward now include:
- We will continue to educate ourselves and provide opportunities for learning. We will be engaged with others in the camping industry and grow together.
- We will seek a more diverse community of campers and staff.
- We are planning for increased Diversity Equity and Inclusion (DEI) training as part of our 2021 Staff Training and beyond.
- We will listen. Plans are to form a diverse and multi generational DEI Advisory Group.
- We will listen to members of the BIPOC and LGBTQ communities.
- We are examining our past camp traditions as they relate to Indigenous culture.
- We will do our best to honor the Abenaki Nation and reform inappropriate remaining cultural appropriation as we continue to teach valuable lessons to our campers.
Wyonegonic will embrace change. As Wyonegonic’s small reach in this world grows, we will nurture a culture of diversity, equity and inclusion where each person feels seen, heard and supported now and for years to come.
Carol, Steve, David, Susie