While the challenges of this year may have been dissuading and discouraging at times, we are further inspired by the unwavering dedication of the camping community to join in solidarity today to reaffirm a simple, beautiful, powerful message: Black Lives Matter.
From these words, a seed of change is planted for vital and urgent action. On June 4th, 2020, Frost Valley YMCA planted that seed, and made these commitments:
…“to foster discussions among our campers about equity, diversity, inclusion, and racism,”
…“to share resources to educate ourselves and our community about antiracism and
augment voices that for too long have been silenced by racism,”
…“to pursue new partnerships that promote diversity and inclusiveness within our
organization and camp community,” and to
…“to keep this dialogue open and keep moving forward through action.”
As we continue to act on these commitments, Frost Valley has also taken these additional steps:
- On July 1, 2020 various members of our staff and Board of Trustees attended YMCA of the USA’s virtual “Unlearning Systemic Racism,” a day-long event presented by the Y’s African American CEO Network. Speakers included: former NFL player Nate Burleson, Senator and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris, antiracism author Rev. Daniel Hill, head coach of the Golden State Warriors Steve Kerr, Mayor of Montgomery Alabama Steven Reed, anti-racist organizer and trainer Dr. Kimberly Richard, and YMCA of the USA’s CEO Kevin Washington. Attendance at this event solidified a crucial foundation for a shared understanding about the role of systemic racism in our society.
- Our Diversity, Inclusion, and Global Innovation (DIG) Committee crafted a board-approved DIG statement that will guide our work. Although this statement encompasses broader topics than solely antiracism, it is as follows: “Frost Valley YMCA strives to be a place where all people belong, where our ongoing work increases inclusion and diversity, where equity is evident in our decisions and actions, and where all are respected. We do this to ensure that all people have the opportunity to reach their full potential with dignity.”
- Frost Valley’s Board of Trustees established and assembled an Antiracism Task Force. Members continue to be added, but the task force currently includes: Gail Morris Ryan (task force chair), John Butler Esq., Carol Wright PhD, and Professor Almaz Zelleke. The goal of the Antiracism Task Force is to enhance board member’s knowledge and awareness of the intersection of race, privilege, and the Frost Valley experience. The task force will be kicking off its first dialogue group readings in order to build community and conversations addressing topics such as equity and racism in the camp industry and in workplaces. All members of the Frost Valley family are invited by the task force to explore and discuss these readings within their communities:
- What is Racism? The Seven I’s by David E. Kirkland, Executive Director of The NYU Metropolitan Center for Research on Equity and The Transformation of Schools
- How to Promote Racial Equity in the Workplace by author and Harvard Kennedy School faculty member, Robert Livingston for Harvard Business Review
- Fear Interrupted: Reframing Cross-Cultural Narratives at Camp by Niami Jaha-Echols for the American Camp Association
- Now that an established vision for our work has been set through our DIG statement and a foundation of ceaseless learning and unlearning has been fortified, it’s time to take actions that will result in measurable impact both for our staff and those we serve. Our DIG Committee identified several top priorities for action and measurable impact to be taken by sub-groups of staff and partners, which include (but are not limited to):
- Innovation in Staff Recruitment & Onboarding: revision of job descriptions and broadening the reach of job advertising as well as enhancing the recruitment process to ensure and developing a comprehensive onboarding orientation experience, all of which focus on maintaining and increasing diversity, equity, and inclusion
- Staff Education & Training: identify opportunities to deepen and strengthen our staff’s commitment to antiracism (and funding opportunities given the financial impact of the pandemic)
- Guest & Camper Education: develop and implement educational DIG opportunities for guests, campers, and participants, staying within our mission’s focus on the outdoors (to begin to be implemented when we fully re-open), for the purpose of building anti-racist, inclusive, and socially just community members
- Identifying Systemic Opportunities for Change: review and adapt as necessary internal and external policies, procedures, and norms to enhance an environment that is equitable and inclusive for a diverse workforce and guest/camper experience
As we look forward to an era of fortuitous change, we want to thank you all for your sustained support and trust throughout our process of reflecting, reckoning, and building a new future. We encourage each of you to join us on this journey, and we will continue to update our community as we pursue this vital work, ensuring that our mission always remains for all.