An Inclusive and Extraordinary WorldPosted by Beigette Gill on March 30, 2022
Fernwood Cove Values include Diversity and Community among other important values that guide our programs, policies, and practices. In recent years we have become increasingly aware of the need to assess our policies and practices to ensure we are honoring these values. We have begun the hard work of creating an inclusive and extraordinary world. A summer camp community that is inclusive and extraordinary for all of today’s girls. Not just the ones that already call Fernwood Cove home.
Our work actually began a few years ago as Maine Summer Camps began offering educational opportunities about racial bias and the racial history of the United States. More recently we have brought this work to the forefront of our efforts. Additionally, it has expanded to include LGBTQ+, Native Americans, and other minority populations. The Fernwood Cove administration has attended online and in-person workshops. Special guest presenters are scheduled to attend our Pre-Camp Staff Training this summer. And we are continuing our personal and professional growth through on-going discussions, gathering of knowledge, and assessing of our own biases. Additionally, we are taking a hard look at how we may need to change to ensure we truly are an inclusive and extraordinary world.
Improving Our Inclusive And Extraordinary World
Every summer Fernwood Cove campers, CITs, and staff hear the Fernwood Cove Directors talk about being welcoming and inclusive of campers. New campers, old campers, campers in different age groups, campers in different bunks – welcome and include them all. This practice helps all Fernwood Cove girls connect and build supportive and meaningful relationships. However, we have learned that our endeavors to create an inclusive camp community must begin long before Fernwood Cove campers arrive at camp. We are identifying barriers that cause individuals to not attend camp. This is one of our first tasks in improving our inclusive and extraordinary world.
We have learned so much already! And we are eager to continue to build our awareness and understanding. We are dedicated to the work of creating a more diverse and inclusive camp community. Our goal is to ensure individuals from all backgrounds feel safe, welcomed, and included in all aspects of camp. This includes personal hygiene to ensuring there are staff in camp that campers from various backgrounds can identify with. Just last year a CIT expressed joy and gratitude in finally having a counselor with whom she could identify with as a black young woman. Providing relatable role models for campers and CITs is long overdue. This is just one of the areas where we are building an inclusive and extraordinary world.
Creating An Inclusive And Extraordinary World
Creating an inclusive and extraordinary world doesn’t just involve looking at today’s practices and polices. It includes assessing the history of Fernwood Cove. And the history of what came before us. Following the lead of Maine Summer Camps, Fernwood Cove has begun to research the history of the lands that we use. This includes recognizing the native people who lived and worked the lands. Acknowledging the origins of Fernwood Cove’s lands is just one way we are creating an inclusive and extraordinary world. In April Beigette will be participating in a training focused on land acknowledgement offered by Maine Summer Camps.
As we continue our on-going training we are also assessing current practices, activities, verbiage etc. Additionally, we are working to ensure we recognize local native tribes that once utilized the land that we now enjoy. And finally, ensuring we actively recognize traditions and practices that have historic origins in Native American tribes. Through this work we hope to build awareness among the Fernwood Cove community and recognize the native people whom once called the lands of Fernwood Cove home.
Leading An Extraordinary World
Doing the work among the administrative team is just the start. We have to help our counselors and staff learn and grow in these areas as well. Only through continued growth and professional development can they guide Fernwood Cove girls. Leading an extraordinary world is a huge responsibility. And we want to be sure our counselors are prepared for that task.
During Pre-Camp training Fernwood Cove Directors will discuss the various initiatives and work being completed around diversity, equity, and inclusion. We will also discuss our pathway towards restorative justice. Additionally, we are excited to be hosting Chris Rehs-Dupin, Co-Founder of Transplaning. Chris will be leading an extended workshop on connecting with our personal stories, building communities, and supporting LGBTQ campers. We recognize this is just the beginning. And we have so much work that’s yet to be done. However, we are motivated and dedicated to this work. Fernwood Cove must be an inclusive and extraordinary world for today’s girls. For future girls. For all girls.