Resource Library

". . We started him at a camp that didn’t like that he didn’t fit into their ‘normal’ box. They didn’t have the flexibility, tools, or understanding that you and your staff have. They didn’t listen, work with the family, work with outside resources, and, most importantly, take the time to get to know the child in order for them to be able to soar." — Camper parent email, August 2019

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Several years ago, when I directed my camp program specifically for African- American teen girls (Camp Butterfly), there were many memorable moments. But one in particular has been etched in the recesses of my mind since the day it occurred. The event happened during one of our summer sessions; it involved a young 13-year-old girl named “Lea.”

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Camp Includes Me Series

This feature article is part of an ongoing series of articles in Camping Magazine that will focus on inclusion, diversity, and cross-cultural agility to share in our individual communities and out in the world.

 

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Camp Includes Me Series

This feature article is part of an ongoing series of articles in Camping Magazine that will focus on inclusion, diversity, and cross-cultural agility to share in our individual communities and out in the world.

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Inclusive Camp
Published Date: 2017-09-01

Have you seen the powerful 2008 documentary film, Including Samuel? It's the heartwarming and compelling story of a boy named Samuel who was born with cerebral palsy and how his family and friends work to ensure he is included in every facet of life (Habib, 2008). Samuel's dad, Dan Habib, is a talented photojournalist, and his remarkable film will inspire you to champion social inclusion of children with disabilities in mainstream camp and school programs. I encourage you to watch it and share this powerful teaching tool with others.

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It’s another blisteringly hot day at Camp John Marc in Bosque County, Texas, and the van doors are slamming shut as twenty young men pile in for the short trip over to the little town of Morgan. In a few minutes, the young men will burst out of the vans at the small Baptist church in Morgan, equipped with games, toys, snacks, and crafts in hand. Kids from around the town will shortly begin appearing from nowhere, arriving by bike, on foot, and getting dropped off by parents. The only day camp that this town has ever seen is about to begin.

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For nine months of the year, children spend most of the day in school, and when the bell rings for the final time in June, most cannot wait for summer to start. During the summer, children are free from daily class schedules and get to spend most of their time just having fun. Some get to spend the summer hanging out with neighborhood friends, others might play on a community sports team, and many even get the chance to go to summer camp.

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You may be asking yourself, "What does a discussion about transgender individuals have to do with me? Why am I reading this in Camping Magazine?" We've had the conversation about the LGBTQ community (defined on page 44) in camps before (see "Don't Assume I'm Straight," in the November/December 2003 Camping Magazine). The time has come to focus on the special challenges facing certain members of that community — transgender youth — and what role camps might play.

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Currently, the camp community is particularly concerned about the future camp market — who will be the upcoming consumer? In which direction are current realities pushing the development of a camp movement? "It is said that by mid-century non-Hispanic Caucasians will be the minority. If this is true, and we look at today's camp market, we are challenged with the reality that our camp market is fading . . . ." said Peg Smith, American Camp Association (ACA) chief executive officer (Smith 2006).

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Controversy. Dialogue. Differing opinions. Some would say that this is the foundation of enlightened inquiry. This inquiry may be rational, emotion-filled, or obstinate. The choice is yours.

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E.g., 2020-09-25
E.g., 2020-09-25