George Floyd should be with his family today.
His life mattered, as did the lives of Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and far too many others. Black Lives Matter. These words should go without saying but are still as necessary as ever. But this moment of despair and anguish also commands us to act.
I have spent this past week listening, learning, and asking the question: what is Frost Valley’s role in responding to the unconscionable suffering of the communities we serve?
In response to the 1967 riots in Newark, NJ, Frost Valley responded by formally establishing what is now our Newark Partnerships Program, which provided children respite from unrest through immersion in the great outdoors. Today, the program continues to expand and is an essential part of our camp community.
And now over 50 years later, the present-day turmoil has again resulted from centuries of unchecked racism. Any progress that has been made in our society has not been nearly enough. We are working to determine Frost Valley’s role in contributing to lasting change.
Our staff and board have identified some short-term steps, with the understanding that it’s only a start. Summer camp activities will happen virtually this year, and we are committed to fostering discussions among our campers about equity, diversity, inclusion, and racism. Through our online presence, we will collect and share resources to educate ourselves and our community about anti-racism and augment voices that for too long have been silenced by racism. We will continue to pursue new partnerships that promote diversity and inclusiveness within our organization and camp community.
I recognize these commitments are a humble beginning.
Despite the enormity of it all, we cannot be hopeless and sit idle. We must find our unique place in this movement toward change.
Frost Valley YMCA is a diverse community of campers, guests, staff, alumni, trustees, volunteers, schools, and youth organizations. This community gives me hope. We are a widely dispersed group who treasures time spent in the outdoors as much as we cherish our core values. Our call to action now is to live by those values more deeply and more intentionally than ever before and find ways to apply them toward change. I know this community will unite in this vital endeavor. Let’s keep this dialogue open and keep moving forward through action.