Every camper at Camp Echo should feel a sense of belonging at camp, where they can be proud of who they are.
As a part of the McGaw YMCA, Camp Echo shares in the mission to strengthen community for all. The Y’s efforts to advance diversity, inclusion, and global engagement (DIG) in our programs and services is central to achieving this mission and supporting all young people in achieving Camp Echo’s goals of safety, community, personal growth, and FUN! Our expectation is that all members of the Camp Echo community will join us in our DIG efforts.
INCLUSION AT CAMP ECHO
We often use the analogy at Camp Echo that “diversity is being invited to the dance and inclusion is being asked to dance.” We also want those asked to dance to help plan the dance! More directly, inclusion is the full engagement of all Camp Echo community members (campers, parents, alumni, staff, volunteers, etc.).
We are fortunate to have a rich history of being a welcoming community centered on our core values. However, we also know that many families have not always had access to camp or felt included once they experience camp. Our priority is to increase access to Camp Echo for historically underrepresented groups at camp and to ensure that all young people feel a sense of belonging at camp.
Below are a few of the strategies Camp Echo has in place to strengthen our culture of inclusion.
Staff Selection and Training
Full-time and seasonal staff are all led through diversity and inclusion trainings, which evolve every summer to address the most pressing topics, build upon passed training for returning staff, and to incorporate learnings from the previous summer.
We believe that inclusion work starts with self-reflection. Starting with our interview process to work at Camp Echo, all applicants are asked questions regarding inclusion and how they will help us make camp more inclusive. During staff training, topics such as implicit bias, privilege, and conflict resolution are explored broadly and then applied to real-life camp scenarios.
Full-time Camp Echo staff participate in regular training led by YMCA of the USA trainers and also community learning opportunities in Evanston such as Courageous Conversations and the YWCA Equity Summit.
Pre-Camp Communication: Co-Create A Plan
Campers who may be challenged in the camp setting for any number of reasons are best supported at camp if we are able to anticipate the challenges before camp and can develop an action plan with parents, guardians, or professionals (doctors, counselors, etc.). Though camp is a fun and immersive environment, it can also be a stressful space for many campers as they have to navigate a new environment that may be vastly different from their home routine for any number of reasons.
If parents or guardians have any questions about creating an action plan for success, please contact our team at email@example.com.
Age-Appropriate Intentional Programming
Many elements of Camp Echo programming are intentionally designed to create a more inclusive environment. From the icebreaker games to the song instruction, staff are trained to ensure all campers in their group can fully engage in camp from the moment they arrive. However, there are also some camp programs worth noting that are specifically focused on strengthening our culture of inclusion.
Community Circles: At camp, we like to make circles. Several times a day, groups of campers make circle-up with their counselors. These circles are opportunities to check-in as a group in a way that honors every voice in the group and creates space for honest sharing. Groups may use a circle to de-brief a team building activity or facilitate end of day reflection (Taps Talk).
By building the habit and skills to circle up together, groups are also able to effectively utilize a circle to resolve conflict that arises within the group. In this way, camper conflicts can be resolved by sharing openly, acknowledging what caused the conflict, taking accountability, and creating a restorative action plan.
DIG Days: During each of our two-week sessions (2, 3, 4, & 5), the second Tuesday of the session is DIG Day. Each DIG Day is focused on a different topic that gives campers and staff the opportunity to share parts of who they are in a way that creates greater understanding and respect throughout our community.
Past DIG Day themes have included Pride Day, Echo Around the World, Peace Day, and Self-Care Day. DIG Days usually follow a normal camp schedule, while incorporating the theme into Morning Reflections, Morning Music at breakfast, Cabin Groups, an all-camp cookout for dinner, Evening Program, and Taps Talk. DIG Days are often a highlight of the session for campers and staff.
New in 2020: All-Gender Cabin Option for Discoverers
As we work to provide as inclusive of a camp experience as possible, we are offerings our Discoverers campers (rising 3rd – 6th grades) the opportunity to stay in an all-gender cabin while guaranteeing a boy-identifying or girl-identifying cabin for anyone that prefers this. In all cabins, privacy is an expectation. Discoverers cabins are all equipped with a private changing space, such as a changing tent on the porch, and campers will be taught to change privately.
We cannot guarantee all-gender cabins. We will offer all-gender cabins if there is enough interest to support this option to create a complete cabin group in a given session. Parents will indicate their housing preference on camper forms in the winter/spring. If parents select all-gender housing or have no preference, the Camp Echo staff will follow up with details regarding camper housing assignments once all preferences are received for a given session.
How We Measure Inclusion
Inclusion is not as tangible as diversity and is thus more difficult to measure in the camp setting. However, Camp Echo is committed to exploring quantitative and qualitative methods to track inclusion. In post-camp surveys for Summer 2019, 97% of campers agreed that they felt included while at camp and 96% of parents agreed that their camper was included while at camp. For first-time campers, 95% of parents agreed that their camper was included while at camp.
In advance of Summer 2020, Camp Echo sent a pre-camp survey to all parents/guardians of campers enrolled as of mid-January. Among several topics, were questions regarding how camp could become more inclusive to support their campers. If you missed this opportunity or would like to contribute further, feel free to send us your thoughts at firstname.lastname@example.org.
DIVERSITY AT CAMP ECHO
Diversity is the presence of differences that make each person unique and that can be used to differentiate groups and people from one another.
Families and campers often want to know who Camp Echo serves. In addition to which of their friends will be coming to camp (which we don’t share – check with them directly!), families want to know the extent to which campers will be similar and/or different from them. Are there campers from the same school? How many campers are from outside Evanston? Will there be campers that look like me? How many campers my age will be there? And so on.
There are infinite elements of identity and we recognize campers however they identify themselves. The data below is collected by Camp Echo during the registration process, which allows us to accurately report who comes to camp and to track how our population evolves over time. Our goal is for the Camp Echo community to reflect the Evanston community, as our primary service area.
Individual Campers: 1,435 Home Address Grades (Representing the grade campers are entering after summer) Race Ethnicity Sex, Gender, & Gender-Identity Female: 781 (54%) / Male: 654 (46%) So Much More [Camp Echo utilizes the YMCA Dimensions of Diversity Wheel as a resource in exploring the many identities that comprise each individual.]
Camp Echo recognizes that each camper is a unique individual, with a distinct personality and identity to be nurtured and supported.
Evanston, IL: 984 (68.6%) / Chicago, IL: 162 (11.3%) / Wilmette, IL: 60 (4.2%) / Skokie, IL: 27 (1.9%) / Winnetka, IL: 25 (1.7%) / Illinois (other cities): 99 (6.9%) / Michigan: 10 (0.7%) / USA (other states): 59 (4.1%) from 19 states / International: 9 (0.6%)
3rd: 58 (4%) / 4th: 149 (10%) / 5th: 177 (12%) / 6th: 216 (15%) / 7th: 283 (20%) / 8th: 248 (17%) / 9th: 136 (10%) / 10th: 86 (6%) / 11th: 73 (5%) / 12th: 9 (1%)
Race: American Indian or Alaska Native: 4 (0.3%) / Asian: 33 (2.3%) / Black or African American: 152 (10.6%) / White: 1028 (71.6%) / Another Race: (1.4%) / Two or More Races: 167 (11.6%) / No Response: 31 (2.2%)
Ethnicity: Hispanic/Latino: 106 (7.6%) / Non-Hispanic/Latino: (92.4%)
Camp Echo is an environment traditionally divided by sex in a binary manner: female or male. However, we know that our community of campers and staff includes gender identities that do not fall into these categories. In addition to binary girl-boy gender identification, Camp Echo invites campers to share their gender-identity during the registration process. We do not publicly share campers’ gender identify and therefore the data below is based on responses to a Female/Male question within our registration process, which is required by our camper management system (CampMinder).
There are so many more dimensions of identity that are important parts of the campers in our community and that, to varying degrees, impact their experience at camp: physical health, mental health, social-emotional development, economic background, dietary restrictions and allergies, language use, faith or religion, personal interests, pre-existing social relationships, history at camp, and so much more. Each camper and individual in our community is the mosaic of all the dimensions of identity already mentioned and many that have not been.
Individual Campers: 1,435
Grades (Representing the grade campers are entering after summer)
Sex, Gender, & Gender-Identity
Female: 781 (54%) / Male: 654 (46%)
So Much More
[Camp Echo utilizes the YMCA Dimensions of Diversity Wheel as a resource in exploring the many identities that comprise each individual.]