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Embracing The Larger Culture

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Experience and advice for recruiting diverse campers and staff from Camp Kupugani Multicultural Camp

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Embracing The Larger Culture

  1. 1. KEVIN GORDON, CAMP KUPUGANI Embracing the Larger Culture
  2. 2. People of Color in Camping <ul><li>Underrepresented in ownership, directorship, staffing </li></ul><ul><li>Overwhelming majority of camp directors and campers is Caucasian </li></ul><ul><li>Inhibits the broader camping field from providing universal access to quality experiences </li></ul>
  3. 3. The Bottom Line is… Any business model must respond to the needs of a large client pool, or will soon be out of business or competing for a shrinking share of a small pie.
  4. 4. My Story <ul><li>Tennis pro in a Jewish girls summer camp </li></ul><ul><li>As time went on, I saw homogeneity- with very few camps intentionally attracting, supporting, and maintaining a diverse camper base. </li></ul><ul><li>A Harvard graduate in psychology, Berkeley Law alumnus, and former attorney at a prestigious law firm, Kevin Gordon directs Camp Kupugani at Camp White Eagle, a multicultural program for girls and the only black-owned private, residential camp in the U.S. </li></ul>
  5. 5. What Camp Kupugani has to Offer Camp Kupugani is a unique program that promotes diversity and empowerment of young women. “Kupugani” is a Zulu concept meaning “to raise oneself up.” The fundamental tenet of Camp Kupugani is to expose girls of varied backgrounds and ethnicities to each other.
  6. 6. 20/20 Vision Our Camp Kupugani mission corresponds with the ACA’s 20/20 vision: we can expand how camps contribute to positive child and youth development in an expanding national and global community.
  7. 7. What Camp Kupugani has to Offer <ul><li>Valuable Life Experience: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Community and Self-Empowerment </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Social intelligence skills </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Exploration of cross-cultural issues </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Cultivate friendship </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Practice teamwork </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Fun activities: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Rock climbing </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Ga-ga </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>River walking </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Canoeing and playing under waterfalls </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Night hikes under the stars </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Carefully designed group activities and games so that fun and personal growth coincide! </li></ul></ul>
  8. 8. No magic...just hard work <ul><li>No magic tool that is going to automatically recruit any camper, regardless of culture, background, or ethnicity </li></ul><ul><li>Camp families—whether “traditional” or not- weigh the prospective costs and benefits when contemplating sending a child to camp </li></ul>
  9. 9. Safety- Physical and Emotional <ul><li>Physical safeguards: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Hiring (background and reference checks, in-person interviews of new employees) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Against physical intrusion by strangers </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Systemic protections against camper-camper problems </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Emotional safeguards: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Minimization of homesickness and bullying </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Ensuring camper emotional development </li></ul></ul>
  10. 10. Demonstrate Cultural Relevance <ul><li>Genuine understanding of the values, lifestyles, and behaviors that parents are trying to promote. </li></ul><ul><li>Cultural relevancy requires an individuated approach: assess the driving motivator to go to camp. </li></ul><ul><li>Emphasize how your camp can help. </li></ul>
  11. 11. Staff Members <ul><li>Hire Staff of Color </li></ul><ul><li>If you don’t have or can’t find diverse staff, institute systems to recruit and develop them. </li></ul><ul><li>Developing relevant support systems is vital, so that non-traditional campers don’t feel alone and unsupported. </li></ul>
  12. 12. Staff Members
  13. 13. Strategies for Diverse Staffing <ul><li>Commit to Diversity from the Top Down. </li></ul><ul><li>Diversify Search Committee. </li></ul><ul><li>Broaden Your Candidate Pool. </li></ul><ul><li>Reach Students of Color. </li></ul><ul><li>Impress Candidates of Color. </li></ul>
  14. 14. Strategies for Diverse Staffing <ul><li>Emphasize Skills. </li></ul><ul><li>Watch for “Fit”. </li></ul><ul><li>Be Self-critical. </li></ul><ul><li>Use Varied Learning Styles </li></ul><ul><li>Encourage a camp culture respecting difference. </li></ul>
  15. 15. Programming <ul><li>Ensure that your camp programming promotes and supports diversity. </li></ul><ul><li>Be intentional in addressing issues of difference. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Strive for emotional safety </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Learn and practice conflict </li></ul></ul><ul><li>resolution techniques </li></ul>
  16. 16. Lines of Communication <ul><li>Be creative with your message! </li></ul><ul><ul><li>“ Give your child an opportunity for the human connections, awareness of the natural world, independence, and character development that only a quality camp experience can provide.” </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Where do you start with a camper base of zero? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Foster relationships with specific communities </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Establish positive word-of-mouth stemmed from affirmative experiences </li></ul></ul>
  17. 17. Camp Communications <ul><li>Many camps have longstanding policies prohibiting direct parent-child communication. </li></ul><ul><li>You can establish a level of confidence in your judgment and experience so that they will trust that such parent-child communication may inhibit their child’s growth. </li></ul><ul><li>Possible Solutions: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Written letters </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Parent to camper emails </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Packages </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Posting pictures daily </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Or… </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Allowing calls during meals </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Camper to parent emails </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Open camp policy: first-time camp parents can drop in and see for themselves that their child is okay. </li></ul></ul>
  18. 18. Pre-Camp Communications- Promotion <ul><li>People who are ready to listen: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Utilize bilingual promotional materials like website pages, brochures, and DVDs. You can also use targeted radio or print ads. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>People who have not been exposed to camping: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Collaborate with community partners with established relationships with people of color- schools, parent associations and parent volunteers. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Offer family weekends. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Offer scholarships or contests, and organize camp presentations. </li></ul></ul>
  19. 19. Director to Parent Communication <ul><li>Non- traditional parent comfort is based largely on extensive director- parent communication. </li></ul><ul><li>Non-traditional parent comfort = simplified camper transition into camp, a better camp experience, and leads to that all important positive word-of-mouth </li></ul><ul><li>This communication exposes the benefits of camp to people who would otherwise be reluctant to help evolve the camp culture. </li></ul>
  20. 20. Post-Camp Communications <ul><li>Post camp communications provide a great opportunity to continue building on a good camp experience and really build positive word-of-mouth. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>The director who calls just to say hi and see how a child is doing shows how the camp family can be integrated with the home family. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Counselor-parent communication </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Counselor-camper communication </li></ul></ul>
  21. 21. Alternatives to Communication Barriers <ul><li>Bilingual staff </li></ul><ul><li>Online translation </li></ul><ul><li>programs </li></ul><ul><li>Cultural awareness </li></ul><ul><li>should also serve as a </li></ul><ul><li>motivator to speak to </li></ul><ul><li>each parent as an individual </li></ul>
  22. 22. It’s Worth It! Opening up the camp experience so that all children have the opportunity to go to camp and feel supported is a momentous reward of intentionality. To get to 20/20, we must act now.
  23. 23. More Questions? <ul><li>Please feel free to contact me! </li></ul><ul><li>Visit camp online at www.campkupugani.com </li></ul><ul><li>Email me at Kevin@campkupugani.com </li></ul>

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