Expanding Our Circle
Eagle’s Nest Camp is entering into its 94th camping season this coming summer and we more excited than ever to be able to gather again as a community on Hart Rd. This past year, while very difficult, has also given us the opportunity to focus on some very important initiatives that we set for ourselves to work toward for our Centennial in 2027. One of the priorities is to evaluate our camp (and foundation wide) culture and identify areas that might be barriers to Eagle’s Nest being a diverse, equitable and inclusive community. With the help of Niambi Jaha-Echols, Cross-Cultural Agility Strategist, we spent 2019 in that evaluation and recommendation creation process, created a Transcultural Commitment Statement, a Gender Inclusion Statement, and formed a staff led Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee.
This year, under the strong leadership of our DEI Committee Chair, Molly Herrmann, we have made significant strides in our work toward becoming a community that better represents all people equitably and honors perspectives and traditions of all members. Over the course of this past summer we finalized our Gender and Housing plan which is structured to assign cabins by gender identity and grade rather than sex at birth and grade. This new plan will be implemented this summer.
Our current focus is on rethinking one of our membership groups at camp, our “tribes”. Our goal is to remove from all of our programs any cultural appropriation, and in particular, that of North American Indigenous cultures. We know how meaningful our “tribes” are to generations of campers and in our work we are building into our new structure those values we each hold dear. This fall we put out a survey to gather your input and over the last several weeks we have held Zoom community meetings to talk as small groups of alumni and current campers about what “could be”. Each of those meetings has been very meaningful and I encourage you to join our last on one this Thursday, December 10th at 8:00 PM Eastern. If you would like to join us please email firstname.lastname@example.org to be included. All ages are welcome. After the winter holidays we will be hosting more gatherings just for young folks as we prepare to implement changes for summer 2021.
I feel as an organization we are making headway in our efforts toward greater inclusion and respect. It can be challenging work to make changes, especially to long standing traditions. I know we have made mistakes along the way, and will most likely make more. My hope is that we always learn, grow, and renew our efforts in positive directions when they do happen. I know that to fully live into our mission, experiential education for young people, promoting the natural world and the betterment of human character, we need Eagle’s Nest to be attracting, welcoming, and serving people of diverse cultures, ethnicities, faiths, identities, and socioeconomic backgrounds. I am grateful to those voices in our community who have been leaders in this work.
I encourage you to read this article in our recent newsletter if you would like to know more about our diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts.
By Noni Waite-Kucera, Executive Director