A Place for Everyone: Reflections on Diversity at Carysbrook by Erika Schlichter

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“We are all the same and we are all different. What great friends we will be…” – Kelly Moran

Like generations of Carysbrook alumnae, my very best friends are overwhelmingly my camp friends. And, like many other alums, I’m quite certain that these strong, authentic friendships would never have been forged were it not for camp. I am also convinced that my capacity to live successfully with random college and grad school roommates, to make a meaningful experience of studying abroad in Senegal, Africa, and to cooperate and collaborate with people who have held different opinions from me in various academic and professional settings would be far weaker were it not for the many summers I spent in the 24149.

The camp experience is a unique one in terms of its ability to successfully bring together individuals from varying geographic, cultural, racial, religious, and socioeconomic backgrounds. At camp, kids have the chance to step outside the confines of social cliques and academic pressures at school to forge new meaningful relationships and discover opportunities for growth in a safe, nurturing environment that promotes diversity, understanding, cooperation, and collaboration in pursuit of a common goal: fun and friendship.

Whether long-standing friendship-bracelet-status buddies, new cabin-mates, or proud teammates at Carysbrook, all campers are encouraged and ultimately expected to recognize, respect, and value the different beliefs, culture, and life experiences that everyone contributes to our camp community. And this intentional promotion and development of diversity, which begins with actively recruiting campers from a variety of cultural, social, and economic backgrounds, is one of our most critical goals as an organization, one that is essential to upholding our philosophy.

We are deeply committed to the belief that understanding, respecting, and valuing difference, while seeking commonalities and creating shared experience in the overnight camping context is a worthy endeavor that reaps lifelong benefits for our campers.

And we are especially proud of the rich geographic and cultural diversity that has become a hallmark of our summers to remember. Last summer, we had campers from Spain and France, and staff from six different countries outside the U.S.

Another way we contribute to being intentional about diversity is through the Camp Carysbrook Alumnae Association Scholarship Fund, which makes us able to assist families from varying socioeconomic backgrounds and further enrich diversity at camp. The alumnae provide the framework for the fund, but anyone can donate, and it’s tax deductible. For more information or to contribute to enriching your camper’s experience as well as that of another camper, click here.

As Carysbrook alum and CCAA President Whitney Mitchell puts it, “Camp is about meeting and having a community with people you wouldn’t otherwise cross paths with. It’s such an important experience in terms of expanding your worldview and learning tolerance and acceptance. At camp, it doesn’t matter where you’re from, what school you go to, what your parents do for a job—everyone is a camper!” And everyone who wants to should have the opportunity to be just that—a camper in arguably the most special place in the world.

In the words of Toni M. Baughman, “there is a place at Carysbrook for all girls – bold, shy, athletic, musical and those who can’t carry a tune,” and when these girls are encouraged “to believe and trust in themselves and discover their unique abilities,” magical things begin to happen: the whole of Carysbrook becomes greater than the sum of its parts.

The unique synergy and one-of-a-kind community that result from the diversity of our campers and staff are what make camp such a special, sacred place, a place where strong values and steadfast friendships are forged not just for summer, but for life.