Inclusion & Belonging — 2023 Summer Debrief Series

Inclusion & Belonging — 2023 Summer Debrief Series

Last week, we started our summer debrief series. Wow. SO MANY of you showed up to talk inclusion and belonging this summer. I was truly amazed and heard such great conversations.

I wasn't in all the breakout rooms and didn't hear all the discussions, but looking at the Mentimeter info, there's so much to talk about. We had over 100 of you attend. I went back and looked through all the answers, and I've pulled out some themes! I've categorized them to help keep a little organized.

How It Went Overall

  1. Progress but Not Perfection: I was surprised and SO encouraged by how well so many camps are doing with inclusion and belonging overall. And how many know there's still work to do! Many mentioned making strides but also encountering roadblocks.
  2. Leadership Gaps: There are quite a few mentions of challenges from upper management or lack of clear policy. This is really frustrating.
  3. Pronoun Progress: There seems to be more comfort and policy around gender pronouns. Amazing! AND... I know this isn't true everywhere. If you're met with pushback about this, reach out to Transplaining for Camps!
  4. Community Perception: Some camps mentioned that external factors, such as caregivers expectations or the general community's values, affected their efforts. On the flip side, some camps mentioned overwhelming community support when they made public commitments to inclusion.
  5. Facility Limitations: A lot of camp facilities are outdated, and those seem to be some of the hardest changes for some camps to make.
  6. Intention vs. Execution: There were some who mentioned that they (or their organizations) were well-intentioned but either lacked the know-how or the resources to fully execute their plans. 
  7. Training: This one was really such a mix. There were a number of camps who dedicated more time, money, and thought to intentional staff training around inclusion and belonging, BUT there was probably an equal number of camps who felt like their training was inadequate, had training time get cut, or weren't able to do training at all.

Common Threads in Wins:

  1. Inclusion & Identity: Gender-inclusive cabins, safe spaces for campers and staff, and a general focus on allowing everyone to be their true selves stood out.
  2. Staff & Camper Support: A good amount of camps mentioned that their seasonal staff members and campers were committed to inclusion and belonging and in line with camps' policies. 
  3. Policy & Governance: Inclusion policies, restorative justice cycles, and broad stakeholder support make it easier to really live out inclusion and belonging as values.

Common Threads in Challenges:

  1. Cultural & Community Resistance: Conservative environment, traditional views of gender, and potential backlash from caregivers or stakeholders still exist and make it harder for some camps to change.
  2. Logistical & Operational Constraints: Time, cost, and location affect the ability to implement changes. For example, changing facilities to accommodate ramps, private spaces, etc. are often a little harder to coordinate with leadership. 
  3. Staff Issues: Diversity among staff, older vs. younger staff alignment, and international staff acclimatization stood out as trends.


We asked what people would do if they had a magic wand and unlimited budget. Some big buckets we saw were:

  1. Staff Support & Diversity: People want a living wage, more support staff (like mental health specialists, behavior interventionists, etc.), and more commitment to professional development.
  2. Facilities & Infrastructure: A lot of responses were looking for privacy, accessibility, and multilingual support. 
  3. Camper Support & Inclusion: Removing or lowering financial barriers was mentioned more than once, and so were more mental health and behavior support.
  4. Community & Communication: I'm going to paint with a pretty broad brush here — people want people to get it. They want to be supported in the work that they're doing at all levels, and they want policies and other resources they can refer back to.
  5. Organizational Culture: People want buy-in from the whole organization when it comes to DEIB work, including training, fair pay, pay transparency, and more.

Outside of the magic wand, we also asked what people are looking for from us, from OAAARS, and from Transplaining for Camps. We're sharing those results around to guide us for the next year.


Again, this was amazing. YOU are amazing. I learned so much and can't wait to keep debriefing with you!

Our debriefs are a lot like membership.

All of this info comes from people talking to people, which is what we do with members daily. We talk about everything from cell phones to schedules to raises and SO MUCH MORE. 

Allison KrabillAllison Krabill

Executive Director

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