As many of you know, George Floyd's murder and the subsequent rallies and civil unrest moved many organizations, including Tumbleweed, to reexamine their work through an anti-racist lens. And, as many of you know, a lot of those organizations simply stopped at an Instagram post or a message of solidarity. Well, I'm here to tell you that Tumbleweed is NOT one of those groups. We have been busy at work analyzing and developing all aspects of camp through an anti-racist lens. Our goal recently has been to make Tumbleweed a place of true belonging, a place that is inclusive and safe. We have a few major initiatives going on. Take a look!
Examining Branding and the Use of Indigenous Imagery
No more Native American or Indigenous Tribal names for groups at North. Our older camper groups are now named after national parks.
Removing any indigenous words, phrases or imagery. For as long as I can remember, our assembly at North has been called "powwow" - not anymore. Instead of using this term, which is often reserved for specific celebrations, special meetings, or ceremony, our assemblies are now referred to as "Camp Fire".
Maybe most notable of all these changes, we are getting a new logo! Planning is in the works and we should hopefully have our new logo by the end of the month.
Supporting our Staff and Alumni
During the summer, we brought together an advisory team of current and former staff, as well as current and former camp parents to discuss ways that Tumbleweed could better support our staff, campers, and families of color. One of the initiatives that came out of this group is a structure for educating and supporting our camp staff. We understand that in order to make Tumbleweed a place of belonging for our BIPOC campers and staff, we have to lay the groundwork, and that includes:
Education: We are excited to host monthly discussions with our staff that focus on implementing anti-racist practices at camp and in education. Are your a current or former staff person that would like to be included? Check out our invite, here!
Care: Not only are we sharing specific mental health and wellbeing resources, we also started a camp specific mental health support system called Dear Scout. Started in 2018, Dear Scout is a resource that staff can use at any time during their employment to access mental health resources with licensed professions.
Resources: We are compiling lots and LOTS of resources for our staff, campers, families, and anyone connected to Tumbleweed. Right now, they live in an ugly excel sheet here, but we are going to make them pretty :)
Reaching more Families of Color
Another initiative that emerged from our advisory group was a process of reaching and support more families of color. We are excited to get the following activities rolling out in 2021 in prep for Summer 2021.
Connecting with Black and Brown parent groups: We are in the process of reaching out to various affinity parent groups to hopefully position Tumbleweed as a summer experience for their children. Are you part of a parenting group that would like to learn more about how Tumbleweed would be a great fit for your child? Let's connect! Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Hosting Q+As online: We know that there were a lot of summer camp choices before COVID, and often they were thrown at parents in big camp fair settings. We are planning a different kind of information session, one that is more intimate and directly addressing questions that you as a parent to a child of color might have.
Growing our advisory group and hearing from more families of color: Are you a camp parent or former staff member that has a child of color? We want to be here for you. Have questions, thoughts, ideas? Let me know! Email me at email@example.com.
Private camp tours and smaller open houses: Once we (hopefully) round the corner on COVID, we will be hosting private tours of camp and smaller open houses. By hosting these smaller, more private events, we will be able to answer questions that you might have as a first time camp-going family.
Supporting Anti-Racist Learning and Thinking
One of the silver linings of COVID-19 has been our Fall Camp program, TWXL. We decided early on that it would be a mix of summer camp activities and extracurricular classes and I've been teaching civics! Here are some of the topics we got to dive into:
Community, Identity and Diversity
Civil Rights, Civil Justice, and the Black Lives Matter Movement
Indigenous People's Day
California Indigenous History
Celebration of the Tongva and Chumash People
Teamwork, Communication and Problem Solving
Self Care, Mindfulness, and Meditation
Building Partnerships and beyond
As you can see, we have only just started our work to make
Tumbleweed a better place. We are excited about building partnerships in the community, expanding our education and support systems for our staff, and growing our camp family to include many more folks of color, different experiences, or different abilities. I'll be keeping you posted through the blog and Instagram.
This week, Tumbleweed is participating in a day of solidarity to support Black Lives at Camp. On Thursday, November 19, camps around the country will be posting, sharing stories, hosting events, and elevating Black voices. From the organizers:
The goal for this collective action is to affirm to our communities that everyone is welcome and everyone is equally deserving of the experience of summer camp. But it’s not enough to post on social media or send an email blast, words and images can be hollow. We must commit to direct action. Only you and others in your organization can determine what that action needs to be. Education, training, policy development, programming, recruitment, and the list could go on. We’ve started collecting some resources on the #BLMatCamp website, but it is by no means comprehensive, just a place to start.
To join this day of action, check out the Black Lives Matter at Camp website, here.