Working Towards Racial Equity
Since 2020, Camp Fire Alaska has significantly increased our focus and resources into DEI initiatives because we recognize the importance of this work to the communities, families, and youth we serve. At this point, we offer 15+ Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) initiatives that take place across the organization, including monthly staff events and DEI Staff Trainings.
But at the end of the day, there will always be work to do. Our mission says, “Every child will have the opportunity to discover the best in themselves and others in a fun, safe, learning environment.” In order to fulfill that mission, we have to emphasize the every. So when we got an email inviting us to apply for the Working Towards Racial Equity (WTRE) program, we knew this was an important opportunity for our agency.
The WTRE program has a goal of diversifying the outdoor recreation field, one that is, traditionally, overwhelmingly White. To do so, they accept applications from various outdoor recreation programs to take part in personalized sessions designed to further educate and guide in creating equity throughout the organization. The intense application process involves agency, employee, and youth statistics, as well as a purpose review and an in-depth questionnaire to be filled out by 8 individuals employed by the organization. What are they looking for? Agencies that are ready to move. Camp Fire Alaska is, and has been, ready to move. Out of over one hundred applicants, Camp Fire Alaska was selected to participate.
At the start of 2022, our organization gathered a small team to lead major organizational change around racial equity through WTRE training and professional guidance for the next two years. The overall goal is to assess what is hindering diversity and racial equity at Camp Fire Alaska specifically. These sessions involve trainings on both overall social culture of the world as well as on organizational change. The WTRE team then offers coaching and support to the BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and people of color) professionals that work within the agency. One of the first major steps the team takes is to develop a Problem Statement: a major thing we want to change within our agency that will have a ripple effect to make a meaningful difference. In the second year, they will focus as a group on guiding the agency through solving that problem.
At this point, our team has dedicated over 200 hours of collective training since January. One of the great take-aways we have had so far has been developing our own WTRE sessions for all of our staff. By allowing everyone working at Camp Fire Alaska to have a basic understanding of the work we are doing on a larger scale with WTRE and by introducing them to key concepts that guide and move our work, they can then contribute. The purpose of these trainings is to build agency wide capacity and knowledge around equity work and ensure that all voices at our agency can be heard.
We are only the second Camp Fire affiliate to participate in the Working Towards Racial Equity program. However, developing our own WTRE-based staff training is unique to only Camp Fire Alaska and we fully plan on continuing these new trainings.
Moving forward during our two-year commitment and beyond the Working Towards Racial Equity sessions, we look forward to holding ourselves accountable for the discoveries made through this process and in doing so, will see our organization become better as a result.
If you have questions, comments, or resources that you’d like to share, reach out to our Director of Operations, Rae Ratliff at firstname.lastname@example.org.