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Takodah Equity Initiative

Carlie Fischer — November 2, 2020

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At Camp Takodah, we’re committed to helping campers develop connections, confidence, and character to reach their full potential. Belonging is a top priority for us, and we work hard every day to create an environment where all campers feel welcome and supported by our community. We also know that creating a sense of belonging for everyone is not possible without actively considering multiple aspects of a person’s identity.

Since the Takodah YMCA was established in 1916, our motto has been “Friendly to All.” Because of that, we work very hard to regularly review all of our inclusion policies to ensure that they’re as impactful as our community needs them to be — and we’re excited to share more about that process.

Providing financial assistance has always been our promise, and our “Friendly to All” motto has historically been a call to action for that dimension of diversity in particular. In 2019 we went above and beyond our typical scholarship program by bringing ten kids to camp through our Fill the Duffel campaign with the Keene Housing Kids Collaborative. In addition to covering the cost of camper tuition, Fill The Duffel provided those ten campers with everything they needed to comprehensively enjoy their camp experience — like trunks, toiletries, clothes, and sneakers.

Further, because COVID has presented widespread economic challenges, many families are reaching out to us who haven’t needed financial assistance to attend Takodah previously. We feel strongly that it’s our responsibility to ensure that camp is accessible to all kids — regardless of their financial situation. As such, we’ll be working harder than ever to increase our capacity to provide Camperships. 

Between 2018 and 2019, we focused a significant amount of time, money, and energy on supporting gender-expansive campers and staff. If you haven’t seen it before, we highly recommend reading through our Gender Inclusion Policy. We’re proud of the progress we’ve made, and with the guidance of a task force comprised of campers, parents, staff, board members, alumni, and professional consultants, we will continue to adjust that policy annually in order to reflect best practices for inclusion.

Looking ahead to 2021, we plan to focus heavily on making Takodah a more welcoming space for campers, staff, and families of color. While this year has certainly presented challenges for all of us, we’ve been inspired by the energy and motivation to create a more equitable world for people of color — and we’re committed to continuing that effort as individuals and leaders of this organization. We’re working hard to develop staff recruitment strategies that will allow us to hire more staff of color, in the hopes that all of our campers will have a role model who looks like them. Additionally, we’re enrolled in many professional development courses, webinars, and trainings designed to increase our cultural competence.

Finally, we want to hear from you! Which parts of your identity do you feel comfortable sharing at Takodah? Can you think of any barriers to inclusion? Are you interested in serving on task forces focused on equity? 

We know it can be intimidating to share feedback. At the same time, your experiences help us course correct when we make mistakes and build on positive momentum as we progress. We’re committed to receiving your feedback with open minds, respect, and gratitude. We invite you to email your thoughts to Assistant Camp Director, Carlie Fischer, at carlie@takodahymca.org.

Thank you for all that you do for our community.