Humans of Aloha

Inspired by Humans of New York, we’ve created a public space for marginalized groups to share their experiences while at our Foundation programs. Through many different platforms and publications, we celebrate the positive impact of camp – it is less often that we pause to listen and reflect on the times when we should have and could have done better. Improving our understanding is a key part of our commitment to make both immediate and lasting change and to ensure we are, each and every day, a community that welcomes and celebrates differences.

These stories will be anonymous and we ask you to help us keep them that way in support of brave individuals who are willing to share personal stories with our entire community. The feature will be every Friday on our Foundation Facebook and Instagram pages. Check them out! Have a story to share? Email us.

Humans of Aloha—Hive, Camper, 2008

“I was not used to taking care of or doing maintenance to my own hair. I depended on my mom to come during parents’ weekend to bring all my stuff: my detangler, all my different combs and my little box that had all my hair bobbles and scrunchies and little ties and clips. Hair: such an integral thing to black culture, especially the types of laws and policies that are put into place surrounding black hair…”Read More

“We had some important visitors on campus one day who were going to join us for a meal. I overhead a conversation between some senior counselors who were discussing where to seat them in the dining hall. They started mapping out the placement by figuring which tables had good table heads. Then they began planning the seating around what brown kids were sitting where and where they were from. One table mentioned was mine…”Read More

“When the Foundation was doing the promotional videos for all the camps, they had this cameraman going around to take footage for the video. I noticed he was kind of following me around. At first, I didn’t think much of it because obviously his job was to get candid videos of the campers—until I would look over my shoulder and there he was, often. I felt like I was just being used as the token Black kid to show that the camp is diverse…”Read More

Humans of Aloha—Hive, Counselor, 2019

“I asked if I could put my rainbow pride flag up on my tent, and I was told that I should not have it up for Opening Day because parents don’t send their children to camp to hear other people’s political views.” I didn’t know my sexuality was a political view. That one was tough…”Read More

Humans of Aloha—Aloha, Counselor, 2010s

“I come to camp with colorful hair every summer. The first summer, I wanted it to make me unable to sit in the corner and be shy and introverted like I usually am, and I realized it had other benefits and kept doing it. It worked at times. I was referred to as the counselor with the blue hair. But as I got closer to other Black counselors, then the microaggressions started like being called the names of other Black counselors and then the names…Read More

“A couple of years ago another camper asked me, ‘Why is your face so black?’ It made me feel uncomfortable and I told my counselor. She said she would report it, but I didn’t hear anything about it for the rest of the summer. I told my family and they called the Foundation Office. They called back saying it was addressed to all the campers, but I was still at camp and never saw that happen. Since counselors didn’t pay much attention to it, I brushed it off my shoulders…Read More

Humans of Aloha—Hive, Counselor, 2019

“On my first day back at camp after a day off, I was expecting a prank from my campers. I sat down at lunch and a camper called me another counselor’s name. The first thing that came to my brain was that this was the prank and I told her ‘Hahaha, is this my camper’s prank’ I’ll play along. She looked at me really confused and was like ‘no, sorry, I really thought you were another counselor.’ The name she called me was that of another Latina counselor…Read More

Humans of Aloha—Aloha, Camper, 2010s

“All through my years at camp, sometimes girls would come up to me and ask ‘what are you?’ And I’d tell them my ethnicities. They wouldn’t believe me because of my skin tone is too this or my hair is too that. Sometimes people would approach me already assuming my background and when I tell them they’re wrong, they’d be surprised. It was very frustrating, especially when you see it happening to other people. ‘You can’t be this…Read More

Humans of Aloha—Hulbert, Staff Member, 2020

“In a summer training session for returning counselors, someone brought up that all the Black girls are sitting together in the Art Barn and we need to split them up. Another person chimed in ‘Yeah, when they hang out together as a group its intimidating.’ How are 15-year-olds intimidating? The audacity for them to ask me to split them up. I was so angry and felt like everything they were saying was stupid. What’s intimidating is being at a camp…Read More

Humans of Aloha—Hulbert, Staff Member, 2020

“I have been in the dining hall at camp thousands of times, but one day, maybe five years ago, I walked around really looking closely at the old plaques and memorabilia on the wall. Among the many tributes to units, events, tent, and cabin families, I saw some images that shocked and saddened me—several stereotypical (and offensive) references to Native Americans, some words or descriptions that seemed sexist or racist, and then in the very corner I found a plaque…Read More

Humans of Aloha—Aloha, Camper, 2018

“I was getting the lice check you get before the end of first session and the person doing the check started off by saying, ‘Wow, you have so much hair.’ Whatever, I get those comments a lot and it could’ve been meant in a weird way but fine. Then she started saying things like ‘I don’t even know what I would do if I had your hair. How do you deal with it?’ She was asking me a lot of different questions and it felt very inappropriate for the situation…Read More

Humans of Aloha—Aloha Foundation, Camper, 2003

“My close friend at camp was petrified of attending the 4th of July parade that went through town. She was really nervous about being in a rural Vermont town that wasn’t diverse. She would talk about her experience with racism in other areas of the country and felt very uncomfortable and on edge. So every year she would always go back to this conversation and I would try my best to console her, “We’re going to be together, don’t worry…Read More

Humans of Aloha—Ohana Staff Member 2018

“One day at family camp after announcements, a parent came up to me to offer some feedback. She explained that the way I had referred to families in the announcements was not inclusive and felt hurtful to her. She knew I didn’t mean it that way and wanted to share her concern. Even though I have always believed that families come in virtually any shape or size—and can consist of biological relatives, adopted family members, same-sex parents…Read More

Humans of Aloha—Hive Counselor 2000

“I went to a camp growing up and it was great, but I didn’t know the isolation that came on the other end as a counselor. There was a sense of social isolation that I felt as a Black counselor at Hive and a sense of responsibility…Read More

“I think when you come to Aloha as a counselor like me—someone who never went to camp there and didn’t know anything about it before I came—my socioeconomic difference really shaped my experience. I remember telling my campers that I had been working two jobs, seven days a week for the past six months so that I could afford to come to camp.  Then a camper asked me why my parents couldn’t just pay…Read More

“During my summer off after Lakeside, I came back to camp for Show Weekend with my parents to get the taste of Lanakila that I had been missing. Something was stolen on camp property that weekend. A senior staff member asked me if I knew….Read More

“I was super excited because I had heard that there were going to be Spanish speaker sat camp. My family is from Central America and growing up I spoke Spanish at home. Being around people who speak Spanish or speak your native tongue makes you feel more comforted, builds connections and, since I was already someone who had been to camp and I heard that this would have been these girls’ first summers, I wanted to make them feel welcomed….Read More

“On the Fourth of July, the oldest camper unit at Aloha called Club picks a theme and they dress up for their march to Lanakila. As my Club group was deciding on one, someone mentioned that we should dress up like Soundcloud rappers…Read More

“There was a lawn dance with Aloha and Lanakila campers on Lanakila’s campus and two counselors were in charge of music and were playing songs that were censored. A song came on and the N-word was bleeped out and there was a second of silence during that part and it sounded like someone in the crowd had actually said the word. I looked at some of the Black Aloha girls that were nearby…Read More

“I had a Black camper tell me she had always wanted a Black counselor and I was her first. This was something I really hadn’t thought of from a camper’s perspective. Most campers would never be waiting for that moment because they were in a community where who they were was reflected back to them. Not being represented, not having someone in leadership or in a counselor position…Read More

“During the Ameden Finals, Lanakila’s annual baseball game, I, a Black counselor, was sitting in Lakeside watching the game with some Black campers of different ages and one white camper. We were hanging out together, we weren’t distracting from the game, and we were having fun. Later, other counselors made jokes with me like maybe I should ‘spread out more.’ Why is it when black people hang out together…Read More

“As a department when photocopying our faces for an activity, mine didn’t come out, mine didn’t come out like everyone else’s, in fact, only my teeth showed up. That picture became the source of laughter for counselors at the time that I had been desperate to be friends, counselors I looked up to when I was a camper. Not wanting to seem like a party pooper, or like I couldn’t take a joke, I started to join in on the laughter…Read More

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