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Advancing Allyship at Camp

May 20

By Layla Moosavi, summer program director, and Rita Chelmo, Middle School U program coordinator

Prior to the start of summer camp, Wisconsin Youth Company camp staff receive 24 hours of pre-camp training on how to offer a safe and fun summer camp experience. Many of the topics cover health & safety skills, tracking campers, providing interactive projectsAdditionally, there are other important topics such as inclusivity and the atmosphere of our camps. Our campers are unique individuals who deserve to feel welcomed, included, and celebrated.  It is our staff’s responsibility to create environments that embrace our campers.  

This week, Wisconsin Youth Company partnered with an organization called LEAD — Let’s Empower, Advocate, and Do  to provide a custom workshop titled, “The Power of Language at Wisconsin Youth Company – A Crash-Course into Allyship & Inclusion at Camp.” The goal of this workshop was to empower staff with the knowledge, skills, and confidence they need to create an inclusive camp community.  

Through this training, staff learned how to acknowledge and lean into difficult conversations surrounding microaggressionsimplicit biases, and stereotypes. They also learned about the importance of creating LGBTQIA+ inclusive camp settings. Through meaningful conversations, staff had opportunities to learn and grow together. 

Wisconsin Youth Company’s mission is to engage youth in opportunities that encourage them to be their best selves. This mission begins with our staff and LEAD’s workshop helped us work toward our mission as we empower our staff to reflect on how we create welcoming and inclusive environments. 

Wisconsin Youth Company is committed to being an anti-racist organization that creates safe and inclusive spaces for children and staff. The training we received through LEAD and the conversations we continue to have are important and necessary for our individual and professional development. Through continual education, we hope to improve our programming and our support for underrepresented communities 

As educators and role models, we continue to build our awareness around systems that negatively impact the children and communities we serve. By taking these steps to continue our own education surrounding difficult topics, we are better equipped to build welcoming environments. This process is ongoing. Staff are looking forward to incorporating these practices into their camp communities this summer and to better serve others in the future.  

Thank you to Madison Gas and Electric for recognizing the importance of this training and providing a grant that made it possible.

Registration is open for summer camps and Middle School U courses.