Diversity Advisory Committee to Camp Runoia
History and Formation: The DAC started with Pam being approached by three campers, asking what Runoia’s stance on Black Lives Matter was. Pam decided forming a committee to advise Runoia on diversity would be a good step of an external body holding Runoia accountable for DEI work. She asked CRAO board trustee, Asha Wills, to help recruit people who could meet and discuss how to advise Runoia on DEI work – specifically reacting to systematic and tragic racism in our country. Pam wanted to include one of the three girls who asked what Runoia was doing about Black Lives Matter to serve on the committee to have student representation.
Goals: The Diversity Advisory Committee’s primary goals were: Firstly, to ensure campers and staff of color are protected by policy that camp would make (for instance hate/bias report forms) and to recruit more people of color as staff to be role models for our campers of color. The mission of the committee has expanded to include projects to help camp be inclusive like diversifying our camp library with books written by and about POC and LBGTQ people.
Donation: If you’d like to donate to the CRAO that supports a diverse population of campers at Runoia by providing financial assistance to families who otherwise couldn’t afford camp. Make an online gift here.
Process: The committee meets once a month between September/October through May. Asha has the chair role, set the meeting dates and agenda, leading the meeting, facilitating the discussions and recording the meeting outcomes and actions in Google Drive for the committee to have access to and to provide a historic record. All advice from the committee goes to camp administration to be processed and decisions made taking into consideration the advice from DAC.
Progression: As almost two years have gone by and the pandemic has continued, there has been a lot added to DEIB work including indigenous people’s land use, pronouns, and supporting people identifying as LGBTQ. The committee recognizes DAC can be more than BIPOC oriented and broaden its advisory role. While none of the members are experts, all of the committee members care about inclusivity.
Current Work: The committee has broadened its work to include discussion about supporting non binary and gender fluid campers and staff, how to help recruit a more racially diverse staff, care of teachers and people working year round with children during the pandemic and the discussion of self-care and mental health support to people at camp. The most recently completed project is the “diversifying our library project” by Claire, Thandie and Erin. Thandie’s list of suggested books were reviewed by Erin who suggested a shorter list within our budget for purchase in 2022. This years’ books were purchased at Mahogany Books, a black-owned bookstore and Tombolo, a women-owned bookstore.
Future: The committee, formed as an ad hoc committee of the CRAO board of trustees, is still defining its role and the participants terms of service and mission of its work. The committee is expanding its membership to include at least one other leadership staff from camp and growing to about 12 members.
Camp has implemented things the committee has backed in theory and with support in various ways:
- Hiring an independent DEI consultant to Camp Runoia
- Implementing hate/bias report forms for campers and for counselors with an external source receiving and processing the information
- Making an internal push for hiring more people of color
- Expanding the library to include more books with POC as protagonists and books written by POC.
- Examining the songs and removing the camp song book as camp rewrites or deletes offensive and hurtful songs
- Adding more inclusive language to the website, using less of the word “girl” and more “camper” although still identifying as a girls’ camp.
- Meeting with the former chief of the Penobscot nation to check about use of the word Runoia as our camp name
- Celebrating Juneteenth in a meaningful way.
- Updating the Runoia website banners on main menu items to include more POC.
- Changing the welcome page of the website to honor the first people on the land the camp is located on
- Creating internal policy that campers who start camp biologically as a female may continue at camp as campers until graduation and are welcome to apply as staff for positions where they can be accommodated (living area, bathroom)
- Changing the team names from Blue/White to Bee/Elephant and working with the Alumnae Reunion committee to change over to the new team names for the 115th reunion.
- Encouraging the committee to look at staggered term limits of members.
- Encouraging the committee to receive applications from current leadership staff at camp to get more people at camp aware of and involved in DAC
- Encouraging the committee to rotate off the student representative and invite another student rep to join.
- Diversifying our Library
The committee is committed to helping Runoia be accountable for DEIB work and is still in its defining moments. The focus on BIPOC support was the founding mission and the committee continues to evolve in a dynamic way.
Em Friedman – Student Rep
click to view Em’s LinkedIn profile
click to view Emma’s LinkedIn profile