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Child Development

Diversity, Inclusion and the Alohas

By The Aloha Team

Two Aloha friends both piggy backing on other friends holding hands.
Alisha Lawrence

I joined the Aloha family as a counselor in 2017 and although I’ve never been one to love the outdoors, I was quickly hooked by camp life because of the real connections you forge with both counselors and campers. During this time, I have grown to care deeply about the culture of our camps and the Foundation as a whole—and wanted to find a way to make an impact on our community. That hope became a reality when I was elected by my fellow counselors to become Aloha Camp’s Staff Representative to the Board of Trustees. This past summer, camp leaders expressed their goal of more fully engaging the Staff Reps and providing opportunities for us to voice our thoughts and opinions. With the input of the Staff Reps, Staff Advisory Board was born!


The Staff Advisory Board (SAB) has been hard at work for the past couple of months in preparation for Summer 2020 and beyond. SAB is comprised of two staff members from each of the Foundation’s camps and programs, as well as the Foundation intern. (See the SAB member list below.) To be able to tackle the many topics we want to address, we have created sub-committees within SAB. Some of those working groups include Charter, Staff Wellness, and one that is very close to my heart: Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI). For many, the term “Diversity and Inclusion” has begun to feel more like a trend or a popular catchphrase—used by companies and organizations to give the appearance that they value these, yet without evidence that the necessary work is actually being done. Initially, I was concerned the Aloha Foundation would be another one of those organizations and that the DEI working group was just a way to appease those of us who have spoken up about areas where we’d like to see change. However, through my experience as a Staff Rep, I’ve learned all of the directors and the Board of Trustees have truly heard us and are actively partnering with us to ensure it happens.


The DEI group is addressing a range of topics that will have an impact for the upcoming season and for years to come. One of our first priorities for Summer 2020 is to have required diversity training for all counselors and staff, and later for all Trustees. We have many campers and counselors that are of varying ethnic, racial, religious, and economic backgrounds, gender identities, and sexual orientations. While our camps are currently predominantly white and affluent, we seek greater diversity within the programs and want to proactively ensure that our campuses feel inclusive for campers and counselors and retain those diverse campuses. Requiring training during pre-camp (the week before campers arrive) will give counselors the tools to create an understanding and inclusive environment for campers and counselors alike. We are also working to diversify our songbooks, create initiatives to support campers, counselors, and staff of color, conduct further research on Mamie Cochran—a widely unknown Black Aloha co-founder—and maintain equity across the girls’ and boys’ camps, and across residential and non-residential programs. The Staff Advisory Board is excited to continue to find ways to make the Aloha Foundation community even stronger. Stay tuned for more updates about the transformative work that SAB is doing!


Staff Advisory Board Members

Kay Hammond – Foundation

Catherine Bleakley – Foundation

Laura Clark – Lanakila

Hal Juster – Lanakila

Maggie Latz – Hive

Gen Greer – Hive

Nate Dimick – Horizons

Chris Starkis – Horizons

Alisha Lawrence – Aloha

Lindsay Stelljes – Aloha

Shelbi Taylor – Ohana

Rachel Loughran – Hulbert

Norman Kalen – Hulbert