Inclusion at Summer Camp
At Camp Fire Minnesota, inclusion is one of our core values, and we strive to live that value every day. We believe that each young person should have the opportunity to engage in the outdoors freely and safely. To do that, it’s our responsibility to create a space where they can be their full authentic selves and be accepted for who they are.
You can see this commitment in action in a variety of ways when you engage in Camp Fire programs. And we’re developing an Inclusion Plan that will guide and hold us accountable along our journey.
Discover more about what we’re doing at summer camp below and view our main inclusion page here. You can also read about our recent name change as part of our work to address past and current Native American cultural appropriation.
We believe every young person should have access to the outdoors. Thanks to the support of generous community partners, camp families, and other supporters, our outdoor programs are accessible to all families, even if camp poses a financial barrier. We are focused on the following:
- Full and partial scholarships are available through a short application process.
- All staff attend diversity, equity, and inclusion training that addresses income differences, equipping staff with strategies to create welcoming environments for campers from all backgrounds.
- We offer opportunities to Camp Fire youth from our out-of-school-time programs to attend camp at no cost. These programs primarily serve youth from low-income backgrounds.
We recognize that outdoor spaces, including camps, are not always safe and welcoming places to Black, Indigenous and other People of Color (BIPOC). You can read more about that history here. We believe and know that Black Lives Matter, and we work to create outdoor spaces where BIPOC communities feel safe and affirmed. Here are some ways we’re working towards racial diversity, inclusion, and equity:
- Staff attend diversity, equity, and inclusion trainings that address race and ethnicity during our 2-week staff training.
- We aim to hire a diverse staff, both locally and internationally. We also know we have space to grow in this area and are working with a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Consultant to make improvements to our hiring, outreach, and retention process.
- We acknowledge that we have a history of cultural appropriation. We are working alongside the national Camp Fire office to acknowledge our history and begin repairing the harm caused to Indigenous communities. Find out more about this work here.
- We celebrate Juneteenth in our programs and with our staff team.
- Young people from our out-of-school time programs regularly attend camp at no cost. Our out-of-school time programs primarily serve BIPOC youth facing barriers to accessing nature-based experiences.
Gender and Sexuality
We welcome and affirm Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Asexual, Intersex, and Two-Spirit (LGBTQIA2S+) campers and staff. While our program is focused on young people finding their spark in the outdoors, our staff are trained to navigate age-appropriate conversations and questions as they arise. Here are some of the practical ways we support LGBTQIA2S+ campers:
- During summer Resident camps, we offer boy, girl, and all-gender housing options. Find out more here.
- We house trans and non-binary campers in accordance with their gender identity and preferred cabin option.
- We fly the Pride Flag in celebration of Pride Month in June and our LGBTQIA2S community, and recognize Pride day in our programs.
- Campers have the opportunity to share their pronouns in their introductions and during icebreakers. Pronouns are how we refer to each other when we don’t use a name – examples include: she/her, they/them, he/him, etc.
- Our staff wear nametags with their pronouns displayed, and we encourage others to respect those pronouns.
Ability, Mental Health, and Neurodiversity
We aim to provide support and eliminate barriers that may impact a camper’s ability to fully participate. We do require that campers are able to consistently stay with their group, follow our behavior guidelines, and use the restroom, shower, and dress themselves without help from our staff. If you have questions about accommodations, please reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Here are some things we do to support campers of varying abilities and neurotypes:
- During the summer, we employ two Mental, Emotional, and Social Health (MESH) Coordinators. These staff receive additional training in Youth Mental Health First Aid and have a background in supporting campers with MESH challenges, campers with ADHD, and autistic campers.
- Our health team will reach out to families as needed before camp to create support plans, as well as support any camper who encounters challenges during camp.
- Campers are welcome to come with a Personal Care Assistant. We will help that person feel at home at camp as another staff person. Our staff cannot offer all-day 1:1 support to campers.
- Our new Community & Dining Center has acoustic paneling to dampen noise and a porch that offers sensory-safe seating during meals.
- We offer campers the opportunity to take a break from their group and rest in a quiet environment, supervised by staff.
Dietary Restrictions and Medical Needs
Our trained health and kitchen staff aim to support each camper’s medical and dietary needs. Here are some things we offer:
- We can accommodate meals for campers with the following dietary restrictions: vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free, pork-free, and dairy/lactose-free. Camp is nut-free. Please reach out prior to camp to discuss options.
- If we cannot accommodate your camper’s specific dietary needs during overnight camp, we can accommodate campers who bring their own meals to camp. We can send families a meal schedule ahead of time so that they can send meals that are close to the planned menu, if desired.
- Our trained health staff distribute medication to campers throughout their time at camp. Please consult our parent resources page for more information about how to bring medication to camp. We welcome campers with diabetes and are trained to safely administer injection medication. Our health office has a refrigerator specifically for refrigerated medications.
- Camp staff are trained in administering emergency medication, including Epi-Pens, Auvi-Qs, and inhalers.