‘Dealing’ with Diversity

Language is important. It’s not only an expression of our thoughts, feelings and actions, but I believe that it has the power to influence those thoughts, feelings and actions.

I recently had the same conversation with two different organizations about Diversity. On the surface these two organizations were saying the same thing, “diversity affects camp” but their language about how diversity affects their camps was vastly different and it’s stuck with me for a few weeks now.

One camp said, “this is how we deal with diversity.” The other camp said, “this is how we’ve embraced diversity.” Notice the difference?

Let me explain what I heard: One camp sees diversity as a challenge, the other sees diversity as an opportunity. One camp is hoping they don’t have to deal with it today, and the other camp is hoping it gets to make camp more inclusive with each interaction. One is reactive, one is proactive. One camp sees diversity as a problem that needs to get dealt with, while the other camp sees diversity as an opportunity to better serve its community.

Language is important: We deal with problems…we embrace opportunities. Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in camping takes serious dedication and thoughtfulness, but that doesn’t mean it’s a problem…it’s an opportunity. And to get back to my original point that language affects thoughts and actions, the second camp (the one embracing diversity) is doing amazing things within their community to get every kid to camp, while the first camp (the one dealing with diversity) not so much…

I understand no one consciously wants camp to be more exclusive. We’re all doing our best here, and I don’t mean to rag on camps/professionals for every little word they use. I know someone could easily knit pick my words and make me look like a real jerk from time to time. However, I do think we can try to be better about our everyday language: be intentional, be kind and take some time to think through how others will internalize your words and actions.

Here’s my challenge to you (and myself): Think before we speak. Are we seeing (and saying) that challenges are opportunities; not just around DEI but also around programming, staffing and development? How is the team speaking about important topics? Are they solving a problem or are they embracing an opportunity to be better?

Good luck, I believe in you.

*These words have been my own, based on my own experiences and do not reflect any organization or association that I’m affiliated with. -Drew

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Published by drewdemery

That Summer Camp Guy!

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