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Equity & Inclusion

Campers performing on stage.

Equity & Community 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. Anchored in equity and community, we aim to foster the strong relationships that are at the heart of our mission.

At the Alohas, EQUITY is…

  • A commitment 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

At the Alohas, COMMUNITY is….

  • 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

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 by completing a camp application and the campership aid section.

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 community includes gender identities that do not fall into binary (girl/boy) gender categories, and we strive to create inclusive spaces for all campers and staff. Our residential camps (Aloha, Hive, and Lanakila) have historically been and remain designed as single-gender programs; they are also welcoming of nonbinary youth.

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.

What We’re Working On

We’ve been busy! In fall/winter 2021, we’re focusing on the launch of the inaugural Facilitation Fellowship Team. Learn more about this new team below, as well as what we’ve been up to since summer 2020.

Introducing…the Facilitation Fellowship Team!

The Facilitation Fellowship Team will help 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 will bring their own experience, creativity, collaborative spirit, and commitment to equity.

Fellows will 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 DEI Manager, 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”:

Jeliah Daluz – Lanakila Health House

“I want to be a part of the Fellowship Team to advocate for campers and staff to have their voices heard and their identities welcomed and uplifted. As part of the camp community, it is important that we continue improving upon creating this space of acceptance for individuals who are looking to feel loved and supported as they are.”

Jeliah Daluz headshot.

Ethan Langsdorf-Willoughby – Lanakila

“Lanakila has been a special place to me for seventeen years, and I’m excited to be part of the team furthering the Aloha Foundation’s goal to create an equitable community!”

Ethan Langsdorf-Willoughby headshot.

Alana Lopez – Hive

“I decided to apply for this Fellowship with the intent to help foster and create a more inclusive Aloha for everyone regardless of race, gender identity, ethnicity, sexual orientation, etc. I want everyone to feel as a part of this special place as I do and make sure that they know that their voices will always be heard as well as amplified!”

Alana Lopez headshot.

Chris Sarkis – Horizons

“I am passionate about creating equitable and inclusive spaces, both at camp and in my classroom, through dialogue, exploration, and of course, music. As an Upper Valley native, I’d love to see our camps make even more connections with our local communities, especially those north of Lake Fairlee. An area of interest for me is representation: whose stories we tell and whose voices we center. I’m honored to be part of this great team, and I’m ready to get to work!”

Chris Sarkis headshot.

Skye Walden – Aloha

“I joined the Fellowship Team to help move ideas into action, recruit and retain counselors of color, and to help make camp a place where everyone thrives.”

Skye Walden headshot.

Arlynn Polletta – Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Manager

“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!”

Arlynn Polletta headshot.

What We've Accomplished

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

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!