Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Update: January 2021

January 19, 2021
groups of diverse campers and staff

In consideration of the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday and the events of the past few weeks, we believe that it is important for the American Camp Association (ACA) to again state that we stand in solidarity with the millions of people who are angry, hurt, and grieving. This is especially for all those who have lost family and friends to racially motivated violence throughout our history. We believe we must each do our part individually — working collectively to end systemic racism and violence. Further, we each have a role to play in not just calling for change, but in leading by doing.

Through our Strategic Plan 2020–2024, ACA has committed to expanding equitable access to camp, and to growing the camp community through diversity and inclusion. Together with camps, camp professionals, and volunteers, ACA is working to help people of all backgrounds, beliefs, identities, and all abilities be valued inclusively and have access to camp.

As a first step in our strategic planning work, ACA hired Nika White Consulting, a diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) consultancy, to conduct an assessment of ACA and the field of camp from a DEI perspective. This process is in the final stages and is focused on implementation planning — through identification of our most urgent priorities.

To support this work, ACA has established a robust volunteer structure to assure that our initiatives align with our strategic plan and to provide oversight and accountability, including the following:

  • DEI Board Committee — Chaired by Ju’Riese Colon, this committee works with the full board to set the strategic direction for ACA’s DEI work in addition to monitoring progress and assuring accountability.
  • DEI Operational Steering Committee — Chaired by Roberto Gil, this committee provides thought leadership and is responsible for implementation planning to operationalize our DEI initiatives. Members of this committee will provide leadership to working groups that will implement individual initiatives.
  • DEI Operational Advisory Committee — Chaired by Sterling Nell Leija, this is a larger committee that is meant to represent the voice of the field in this work. Members of this committee will have a higher-level understanding of our various initiatives and will champion this work in the field. Members will support the working groups charged with implementing individual initiatives.
  • DEI Working Groups — Once ACA’s DEI implementation plan has been outlined and initial priorities established, various working groups and task forces will be established to support these individual initiatives.

ACA will continue to develop real-time resources and educational materials while we frame out our full implementation plan for DEI, such as our Hiring for Diversity podcast, our diversity conversation with Jamal Stroud, and the Inclusion Through CIT Program initiative. Our National Conference will also have a wide variety of DEI sessions, with topics ranging from racial and implicit bias to developing inclusive programming at your camp. Our closing keynote with Gloria Wilder, MD, MPH, — Restoring Dignity — will address racial inequity.

The DEI Steering Committee is in the process of developing our overarching DEI implementation plan, which will include the identification of our initial priorities. We currently expect this work will be completed in the first quarter of 2021. Additionally, our DEI Advisory Committee will be formally established in the next two months — seeking critical input from the field to help shape this work. Be on the lookout for individual working groups or task forces that will be developed to support these initiatives. To do this we are asking for significant support from the field to make meaningful progress in this critical area.

For additional information or to get involved in ACA’s DEI initiatives, please reach out to Jazmin Albarran.