Promoting Diversity Through Innovative Programs.

Peg Smith, executive director of the American Camping Association

As a parent, I am aware that the world my children will live in will be fundamentally different from the one in which I grew up. I am challenged to appreciate the realities of this new world and how to best prepare my children to be contributing adults. The depth, breadth, scale — and new face — of our world is changing rapidly. Professionally, it also demands that I consider what will be the new face of camp tomorrow. If we feel the camp experience is truly of value to all, then we must understand and be able to serve those new faces of tomorrow.

There are questions each of us needs to consider:

  • What do I need to understand about the new markets?
  • What are the new ways we need to communicate with emerging markets?
  • How will the faces of my counselors need to change? How will that affect recruitment?
  • Do I understand the values of those who are different from me, and how do I share the complementary values that my camp offers those new populations?

Many camp programs throughout the country are learning how to preserve the traditions of the camp community while growing and changing to meet today's needs and tomorrow's realities. The following articles showcase just a few of the innovative and admirable programs that are providing the value of camp to new populations — and offer all of us opportunities to look at how our own programs can become more intentional in addressing the demands new markets bring to the camp community.



Originally published in the 2004 July/August issue of Camping Magazine.