The Inclusive Community of WeHaKee!
Yes, WeHaKee is a Catholic camp. It is owned and operated by a Catholic order of Sisters, The Dominicans of Sinsinawa. But since they founded WeHaKee nearly 95 years ago, these Sisters insisted that it be an inclusive camp open to all girls – a tenet that remains deeply embraced today. The Sisters understood, even back in 1923 and well before that, that the world is a diverse palette that we must empower, not divide!
At the most recent conference of American Camping Association (ACA), we had the pleasure of spending time with ACA board member and Cultural Agility Strategist, Niambi Jaha-Echols. In her positive and enthusiastic, yet direct and challenging approach, she helps all of us look into ourselves to see what we are contributing to make this a better, more accepting world (or what we are barriers we are enabling to counter that goal).
“A monochromatic view distorts reality
and narrows our perception.
We need a new way of seeing each other.
We need a place where we can explore,
showing up in our full, vibrant color
with all the things that make us unique.
That is why the world needs camp.”
Niambi Jaha-Echols, Camp Includes Me: Inclusion, Fusion,
and Cross-Cultural Agility, Camping Magazine, 2017
The quote above is from a wonderful article penned by Niambi exploring the value and importance of cross-cultural agility in our camps and more importantly, in our world – Camp Includes Me: Inclusion, Fusion, and Cross-Cultural Agility, Camping Magazine, 2017. We urge you to take time to read her thoughts and call to action.
We found her words to be affirming of all that is happening at WeHaKee, but she also challenges us to continue to do more. Current events signal that we have not achieved inclusivity and acceptance, that many continue to be marginalized and experience systemic discrimination. But camp is a force to counter these trend and WeHaKee is committed to breaking through these obstacles!
In the Sisters’ wisdom, inclusivity is woven throughout the fabric of WeHaKee. It has come with its challenges and its conflicts, but moving through the challenges and conflicts has helped us to grow as an inclusive camp community. And as our world grows smaller through advances in travel and technology, it is critical we raise young women that have a clear, inclusive perspective so that they can go out and make positive and meaningful change in our world!
Thanks for reading everyone and have a wonderful week!