Registration is open for Aloha, Hive, Lanakila, Ohana, and Horizons 2023!

Equity & Inclusion

The Shape of Our Community

Inclusion in Aloha Foundation Programs

There are many dimensions of identity that shape who we are. Background, social identities, personal interests, and many other factors impact each person’s experiences in the world and at camp. We know recognizing the complexities of these dimensions is essential in affirming everyone in our community. We value the diversity that enriches the Alohas and strive to create a sense of belonging for all who are part of our community.

While these philosophies have been consistently part of our programs in practice, stating them clearly is an important part of our efforts. We know our programs are not the right fit for everyone. If you have a specific question, please contact us prior to enrollment to make sure the Aloha programs are the right fit. 

Financial Assistance

We hope that every child has the opportunity to attend our programs and camps regardless of their family’s financial situation. Support is extended to families who demonstrate a wide range of financial need. Our campership aid budget is limited, and we encourage those seeking support to apply early. See our Campership Aid Process Chart for more information.

Racial Diversity

It is a priority for us to create welcoming spaces for people who have been historically underrepresented at the Alohas. We intend to work toward creating spaces where BIPOC individuals feel valued and affirmed in our community. Additionally, we understand the importance of removing barriers that have prevented people from accessing our programs.

Gender Inclusivity

We know that our camp communities include gender identities that do not fall into binary gender categories, and we strive to create inclusive spaces for all campers and staff. The Aloha Foundation takes a gender expansive view. Our camps are open to nonbinary, trans*, and gender non-confirming individuals.
Aloha, Hive, & Lanakila: We see value in creating intentional communities centered in the experiences of girls and young women (Aloha/Hive) and boys and young men (Lanakila), while also being inclusive of wide range of gender identities.  

Some benefits of single-gender programs include: 

  • The ability to learn, grow, and take risks in environments free of cross-gender pressures 
  • The opportunity to disrupt societal constraints, stereotypes, and traditional perceptions of what it means to be a “girl” or “boy” 
  • The potential for developing strong relationships with mentors and role models that share similar lived experiences 
  • For girls programs – the creation of safe, supportive, celebratory spaces in response to environments that have historically excluded girls and women.
    • (These benefits are inspired by Transplaining) 

Affirming LGBTQIA+ Youth & Staff

We provide safe, affirming spaces for LGBTQIA+ youth and staff. It is important for us to support all in our community regardless of their sexual orientation, gender expression, or gender identity. We rely on our trained staff to support age-appropriate conversations and guide discussions when they arise.

Supporting Ability & Neurodiversity

We welcome participants with various capabilities and can make reasonable accommodations. We aim to provide support and remove barriers that may impact a camper’s ability to fully participate in our programs. And our campuses may be difficult to navigate for people with certain physical disabilities. We value neurodiversity and can meet the needs of many neurodivergent campers, but we may not be able to accommodate every need that exists. To best support your camper, clear communication about the level of support your child requires is essential in setting them up for success.

Affinity Spaces

What are affinity spaces, and why are they important?
Affinity spaces are identity-based groups that allow people who share an identity to connect, talk openly about issues related to that identity, and brainstorm positive action steps for promoting inclusion and equity. These groups center around historically marginalized identities and provide unique opportunities for safe, authentic sharing. In our programs, affinity spaces are intentionally camper-centered and designed to meet the needs of young people at varying levels of awareness and understanding of identity.


Who can join an affinity group?
Anyone who identifies with that particular identity is welcome to join the group. There may also be occasions when allies are invited to participate. The goal is that the affinity group members feel they can safely express themselves without having to worry about others who may not understand their experience because they are of another identity. For those who experience discrimination and marginalization, these groups serve as powerful sources of energy and support.  

Don’t affinity groups create more separation and exclusion?
Just the opposite – these groups are meant to enhance our commitment to inclusivity and are only “exclusive” in order to create safe spaces for people who may experience discomfort in the larger community. During affinity group meetings, people can share freely and without inhibition about their experiences. These groups help people feel more visible and valued as part of the wider community.  

What do affinity spaces look like at camp? Do they conflict with other camp activities?
Joining a group is always optional, and discussions are offered during times that don’t conflict with other activities. Affinity spaces should support the needs of each community, so groups might differ from camp to camp. Facilitators of the affinity groups are specifically trained to guide camper-centered, developmentally appropriate conversations. The affinity spaces are joyful, celebratory, and lots of fun!

Pronouns

It is important that all members of our community are known and seen in a way that allows them to feel supported and inspired to be their best selves at camp. Normalizing the use of pronouns gives everyone the opportunity to self-identify rather than assuming someone’s identity and the personal pronouns they may use.


What are pronouns?
Pronouns are the words campers and staff may use in place of their proper names. Examples include “she/her” or “he/him” or gender-neutral pronouns, such as “they/them”. Some people use specific pronouns, any pronouns, or none at all.  

Why do we share pronouns at camp?
Including pronouns is a first step toward respecting people’s identities and creating a more welcoming space for everyone in our community. Sharing pronouns on name cookies and in conversations allows campers and staff to self-identify instead of making assumptions about people’s identities and the pronouns they use.  

What if I get someone’s pronoun wrong?
Don’t worry, learning pronouns takes practice. We know that sharing pronouns might be new for campers and staff. Mistakes happen, and we want to ensure that everyone feels comfortable asking questions and can continue to learn and grow.

Equity & Inclusion Statement

We strive to ensure each person is valued for who they are and what they bring to the community.

This means creating environments that invite people not simply to “fit in” but to feel a deep sense of belonging. We are working to increase support and access for those who have been historically underrepresented in our community in an effort to create a more equitable future for the organization as a whole. We aim to foster the strong relationships that are at the heart of our mission.

At the Alohas, we are committed to:

  • Designing programs that work for all members of our community
  • Centering impartiality and fairness in policies, procedures, and distribution of resources
  • Clearly understanding and defining the limitations of our organization
  • Taking action to remove barriers that prevent full engagement in our programs
  • Affirming the various perspectives that enrich our collective experiences
  • Centering relationship-building that honors each person’s identity
  • Valuing every individual’s unique contributions as we learn and grow together

What We’re Working On

We’ve been busy! In fall 2021, we launched the inaugural Facilitation Fellowship Team. Learn more about this new team below.

Introducing…the Facilitation Fellowship Team!

The Facilitation Fellowship Team helps grow and further align programs, build leadership capacity, recruit, and retain staff and campers from underrepresented groups, and continue to strengthen our camps and programs. Each Fellow brings their own experience, creativity, collaborative spirit, and commitment to equity.

Fellows participate in ongoing diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) professional development training; co-facilitate three training sessions; support and attend two or more regional recruitment efforts; attend regular virtual team meetings with the other Fellows, the Equity, Inclusion & Outreach Director, and invited guests; write pieces for Aloha Foundation publications or blog; serve as a resource for other counselors; and work to support ongoing projects and spearhead new initiatives related to equity and community.

Facilitation Fellows share their “why”:

Maeve Callahan – Lanakila

“Camp quickly became one of the most important parts of my life over the two short years I’ve been involved with the Foundation. By working on this team, I want to help broaden the populations that have access to this life-changing place. I want to make camp a comforting and loving place especially for campers who might not have those kinds of spaces in other facets of their lives.”

Genna Goggins – Hive

“I believe that camp should be a place where every camper feels included, loved, and supported. Whether they get this in their own home or not, camp should be a safe and welcoming space. Given the opportunity to continue to foster that environment, find new ways to support campers, and spread the Aloha Foundation’s mission is something that I am extraordinarily passionate about. I believe that we should never stop trying to be better for the generation that comes after us, and this is just one of the first steps. 

Ethan Hall – Lanakila

“My experience as a Lanakila camper had an influential role in developing the person I am today. As a member of this Fellowship Team, I hope to continue making positive changes so that all campers and counselors feel their value as members of our camp community and continue to improve the place we call home.”  

Jesse Hausknecht-Brown – Aloha

“I am excited to be a part of the Fellowship Team in order to move camp forward and create a sustainable and equitable future for the Foundation. Going to Aloha was a transformational experience for me and I want all campers to be able to experience the love, care, and community that the camps can provide.” 

Brita Mutti – Aloha

“My deepest desire is to have a better understanding of how racism exists within communities and how the equity and inclusion platform will provide the language that has been missing to truly do the work.” 

Sarah Townsend – Hulbert

I am thrilled to be a part of the Fellowship Team this year because I am extremely passionate about inclusion and opportunity as it applies to creating supportive and equitable communities. The Aloha Foundation and camps are such beautiful spaces for young people to learn and grow, and I’m grateful to be a part of a team dedicated towards leveraging historically marginalized members of the community and ensuring just representation within the camps so all campers and staff feel truly seen, loved, and heard for who they are. To show up in a space as your most authentic self without any fear of judgment or discrimination is a gift; I’m honored to be collaborating with my peers towards seeing this vision of diverse identity appreciation and celebration for all campers and staff come to life this year! 

Aisha Yousuf – Lanakila

“I was a member of the Lanakila community last year. It was my first time being outside my comfort zone. I was worried about the experience, but it was the most wonderful summer of my life. It was magical! When I came to know that there is a whole team behind this wonderful program, I thought it would be great to make someone else’s experience as magical as mine. I also believe that I am a minority in terms of nationality, race, and religion, and I understand what other people might need to make their experience even better.”

Arlynn Polletta – Director of Equity, Inclusion & Outreach

“Diversity, equity and inclusion work is most effective when we are co-creating a vision of our collective future. I am so thrilled to have the opportunity to collaborate with this dynamic team on action steps that will support continued learning and growth in our exceptional community!”

Past Facilitation Fellows

2021-2022 
Jaliah Daluz (Lanakila)
Ethan Langsdorf-Willoughby (Lanakila)
Alana Lopez (Hive)
Chris Sarkis (Horizons)
Skye Walden (Aloha)
Arlynn Polletta (Director of Equity, Inclusion & Outreach)

 

What We've Accomplished

  • 2022
  • Summer 2021
  • Winter/Spring 2021
  • Fall 2020
  • Summer 2020

For Staff

  • New Partnerships: Foundation and seasonal staff members visited Harlem Academy in February to learn more about the school community and build connections with students and families. Five new campers from Harlem Academy joined the Aloha, Hive, and Lanakila communities this summer. The Aloha Foundation will also partner with the Anne Shore Sleep-Away Camp Program, Cincinnati Country Day School, and KIPP Capital Region Public Charter Schools in 2023. 
  • Facilitation Fellowship Team Education Sessions: In the spring, fellows designed and facilitated virtual education sessions for staff on the importance of equity and inclusion at camp and creating belonging through affinity spaces.
  • E&I Pre-Camp Training Sessions: Equity and inclusion sessions completed in pre-camp focused on self-awareness in connection with social awareness, implicit bias, understanding cultural differences, and navigating critical conversations.
  • Speak About It Training: Facilitators from Speak About It led an engaging workshop on staff culture and consent education for residential camp staff during pre-camp.
  • New Staff Check-Ins: Foundation staff offered opportunities for open dialogue with new staff members about their experiences and finding a sense of belonging at camp.
  • CIT Facilitation Training: This education session, including facilitation training and scenario work, was designed for our counselors-in-training, such as First- and Second-Year Apprentices (Horizons), Midis (Hive/Aloha), and Second-Year Bridgers (Lanakila).
  • Ongoing Professional Development: These varied sessions were offered throughout the summer to staff on self-awareness, unpacking whiteness, and additional DEI topics. 

For Campers and Staff

  • Camp Assembly: This assembly on the song Aloha ‘Oe was part of our ongoing work to contextualize some beloved songs in our songbooks. Chris Sarkis (2022 E&I Fellow) worked with a Hawaiian musician to learn more about the historical context and correct pronunciation of lyrics in Aloha ‘Oe and shared his knowledge with campers.
  • Affinity Spaces: Inspired by campers and facilitated by counselors with specific training, affinity spaces are optional and designed for campers with shared identities to gather, connect, and share lived experiences. Some affinity spaces initiated by campers this summer included BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color), Latinx(e), LGBTQIA+ groups, Neurodiversity, and Jewish groups.
  • Hair Care: Professionals specializing in protective hairstyles visited camp this summer to offer styling for campers of color.
  • Responsive Ongoing Individual and Group DEI Support: Arlynn and E&I Facilitation Fellows were available to work with campers and staff on DEI-related issues as they came up during the summer. 

For Staff

  • DEI Pre-Camp Training Sessions: These 90-minute DEI sessions, completed in pre-camp, focus on self-awareness in connection with social awareness and understanding “isms” with an intersectional focus on race and gender.
  • Facilitating Difficult Conversations: This training module centers around facilitation tools and tips; differences between dialogue and debate/discussion; and scenario work practicing facilitation with realistic camp scenarios.
  • CIT Facilitation Training: This education session, including facilitation training and scenario work, is designed for our counselors-in-training, such as First- and Second-Year Apprentices (Horizons), Midis (Hive/Aloha), and Second-Year Bridgers (Lanakila).
  • Open Table DEI Dinner Discussions: Facilitated by Aloha Foundation DEI Manager Arlynn Polletta, these conversations offer an opportunity to share ideas, ask questions, and build connections.
  • Ongoing Professional Development: These varied sessions are offered throughout the summer to staff on self-awareness, unpacking whiteness, and additional DEI topics.

For Campers and Staff

  • Camp Assembly on Micro-aggressions/Micro-affirmations: This camp assembly, offered in developmentally appropriate versions for younger or older audiences, is designed to support campers in developing an awareness of the impact of comments and behaviors that perpetuate discrimination and stereotyping.
  • Affinity Spaces: Inspired by campers and facilitated by counselors with specific training, affinity spaces are optional and designed for campers with shared identities to gather, connect, and share lived experiences. Some affinity spaces initiated by campers this summer included BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color), Latinx(e), and LGBTQIA+ groups.
  • Responsive Ongoing Individual and Group DEI Support: Arlynn is available to work with campers and staff on DEI-related issues as they come up during the summer. Here are some of the needs that arose, which Arlynn supported this summer.
    • Topsider Topics: Designed for the eldest Hive campers this summer called Topsiders, campers explore identity development through visual art and small group discussions.
    • Dialogue Skills: Hillsiders at Lanakila practice dialogue skills by working through realistic camp scenarios.
    • Camp Assemblies: Campers and counselors in an affinity group at Aloha created an assembly focused on the significance and individuality of hair in different cultures, which was then shared at Hive.
    • Scattered Evening Activities: These evening program activities are offered for campers to explore identity and self-awareness (ex. Self Expression Through Performance Poetry).
    • Songbook Discussions: Campers opt into conversations on changes and additions to the camp songbooks.
  • Revised the Aloha Foundation’s comprehensive training plan—for seasonal staff arriving in June 2021—with a focus on creation of new content, consistency in the experience across programs, and identification and preparation of the most effective trainers for different topics.
  • Hired a new DEI Manager, who is implementing and evaluating changes for this summer and beyond, and offering her expertise as we develop the Aloha Foundation’s long-term DEI goals. Arlynn Polletta will serve on a contract basis for 6-8 months—an approach that will allow us to establish our long-term goals. Our aim is to hire a permanent team member who has the experience and skillset that best match our needs in the years ahead.
  • Engaged the Board of Trustees and year-round Foundation staff in DEI educational sessions.
  • CSSS Training: This was an opportunity for staff to participate in a three-day virtual DEI training led by the Center for the Study of Sports in Society (CSSS) prior to arriving at pre-camp.
  • Completed working group assignments. Five groups of staff, alumni, and parents met to create recommendations related to specific areas of focus that emerged from the summer listening sessions: 1) staff training 2) counseling strategies including Success Counseling 3) singing and songbooks 4) defining our commitment to a “Child’s World”, and 5) research on Mamie Cochran, one of our camps’ founders.
  • Continued “Humans of Aloha” social media series and web page for marginalized groups to share their experiences in our Aloha Foundation programs.
  • Featured a two-page spread on DEI topics by three Task Force and working group members (Alisha Lawrence, Chris Sarkis, and Rebecca Sigel) in the fall 2020/winter 2021 Reveille, our community-wide newsletter sent twice or three times a year to about 4,000 constituents.
  • Created the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Task Force. The eight-person group includes the Executive Director, two Trustees, and five staff members (current and former/year-round and seasonal).
  • Launched the new DEI web page on alohafoundation.org to keep the community and public informed about our work.
  • Began the “Humans of Aloha” social media series and web page for marginalized groups to share their experiences in our Aloha Foundation programs.
  • Hosted a virtual Aloha Community-Wide Town Hall.
  • Hosted segmented listening sessions and discussion groups for our community.
  • Featured a DEI update written by Trustee Verna Cleveland, Chair of the DEI Task Force, in the Key Insights quarterly publication, mailed to about 1,000 of our most engaged constituents.

Humans of Aloha

We created a public space for marginalized groups to share their experiences while in our Aloha Foundation programs. Every Friday, from July to December 2020 on social media and on Our Stories, we shared an anonymous story from one of our brave community members.

Some Key Milestones in Our History

1900s

The Gulick family bought the property that is now Aloha Camp on Lake Morey and hosted gatherings for family and friends. 1905 marked the first official season for Aloha Camp, with 22 campers. At that time, bringing girls to camp was radical, as boys were considered to be up to outdoor challenges, not young women. Harriet Gulick (“Mother Gulick”) credits Mamie Cochran, family cook and caretaker, as one of two people who suggested the property would be a lovely spot for a camp for girls. In a Scamp Spirit newsletter tribute in 1922, after Mamie’s passing, Mother Gulick wrote, “She was full of the real Aloha spirit long before Aloha was known…I can see her resolute face in 1904 when she said, ‘Sure it will be a success. I’ll do the cooking and we’ll make a go of it together.’” Aloha Club, our camp for women 18 to 80, hosted its first campers in 1910. Another progressive concept for the times, Aloha Club was located on Lake Katharine and accessible only by canoe. Aloha Hive, a camp for younger girls, opened in 1915 on neighboring Lake Fairlee.

1920s through 1960s

Lanakila’s first camp season was in 1922. During this period, the Gulick family invited international counselors from a broad range of countries to camp, including England, Sweden, France, and others. Recognizing the value and importance of a diverse community, camp leaders and alumni created to provide camperships and allow more children to attend the Alohas. Today, we welcome more than 100 campers and counselors from places around the world like Mexico, Hong Kong, Singapore, United Arab Emirates, Russia, Italy, New Zealand, Colombia, South Africa, Australia, the Philippines, Hungary, and the Czech Republic.

1968

In 1968, when there was no longer a successor in the Gulick family who wanted to lead the camps, Aloha, Hive, and Lanakila were at risk of closing. A group of dedicated alumni and parents who loved the Alohas stepped in to save the camps by creating a nonprofit organization, the Aloha Foundation.

1970s through 2010s

Aloha Foundation leadership cultivated relationships and forged partnerships with organizations, primarily based in Boston and NYC, that were working in communities of color to help us recruit children who would thrive at camp. Although the Aloha Foundation is not religiously affiliated, in the 1970s, we developed a longstanding connection with Cornerstone Baptist Church in Brooklyn, New York, a partnership created thanks to close friends of the Alohas. In 2005, the Diversity Fund was created as part of the Centennial Campaign. The following year, the Aloha Foundation leadership team participated in a diversity retreat to discuss the future vision for the camps. The Board of Trustees created the Diversity and Inclusion Taskforce in 2011, which presented recommendations and adopted the Diversity Values Statement:

The Aloha Foundation believes that diversity at all levels is essential to our mission and enriches our community. As an educational organization, the Aloha Foundation is committed to fostering a multiplicity of backgrounds, interests, values, experiences, cultural viewpoints, and beliefs.

We therefore strive to:

  • Provide meaningful opportunities for Aloha community members to learn from the experiences and appreciate the perspectives of people with backgrounds significantly different from their own.
  • Increase the social, racial, and economic diversity of the Foundation’s camps, programs, staff, and Board.

In 2014, thanks to funding from the Diversity Fund, the Hulbert Outdoor Center launched a pilot leadership program, designed for a group of 60 students from diverse communities. The Success Leadership Program, which has continued to grow in popularity since its inaugural year, consists of onsite teambuilding, leadership, and community project sessions, followed by participants sharing their knowledge in their home schools and leading school-wide projects to benefit their communities. Five years later, a total of 230 students from 10 schools participated.

2015-2019

With peers from other Vermont non-profits, in 2018, program directors and leaders engaged in a four-month-long cultural competency training project with CQ Strategies, based in Burlington, VT. In 2019, all full-time staff attended a one-day session with CQ Strategies with the goals of strengthening our understanding and appreciation of each other.

A landscape with a lake surrounded by a forest.

Let’s Connect

We offer camps and programs for people of all ages. Let’s talk about you, your child, your family – and discover together which experience you would value most. There are many options and possibilities!