24 November 2020
This week Deerwood took part in a Day of Action in support of Black lives, an event promoted by our two local camping organizations, the NHCDA and ACA New England, and joined by hundreds of camps across the country. While our actions on that day primarily involved outreach to our current Black camper families and an affirmation on social media that Black Lives Matter, we are busy making plans to continue this work in the months ahead and years to come. As directors, we have already met with leaders on the Deerwood Foundation board to discuss diversity, equity and inclusion in our camp community, our camper recruitment strategies and our staff hiring efforts. We firmly believe that the Deerwood experience is one that should be an opportunity for kids from all backgrounds, races and ethnicities and recognize that Black and Latino families, in particular, have been historically under-represented in the world of summer camps, including at Deerwood. In partnership with the Deerwood Foundation since 1994, we have been acting on our belief that Black Lives Matter by working hard to provide opportunities for boys from families of color to share in the Deerwood experience. But we can do better. In particular, one of our near-future goals is to make our counselor ranks more diverse, so that the boys who comprise the increasingly diverse camper group can have a similarly representative variety of inspirational role models and leaders on staff.
We appreciate the support and encouragement we have received from many Deerwood families and alumni and welcome further input and suggestions as we move forward. To those who fear that our statement affirming Black Lives Matter brings politics into camp, we hope you will consider that empathy and inclusion have been at the core of Deerwood’s philosophies, values and teaching for 76 years. Stating that Black Lives Matter feels, to us, fundamentally a part of camp’s values and an extension of lessons we hope all boys and young men learn to embrace through their summers at Deerwood. And as directors, this statement is our promise to the Deerwood community that we will look inward, at ourselves and our organization, in an effort to discover implicit biases and prevent racism. As with all projects at Deerwood, we know we will need to roll up our sleeves, dig in and do some hard work and, as always, we encourage and invite your help. It is our sincere hope to see the day come when any boy can attend camp, and all boys who don the D-shirt feel a true sense of belonging at Deerwood.
Lorne and Pete