Many folks wonder how we do social justice at the BDC with such young campers. The answer: “We roll it in everywhere.” Here, the work of social justice education is not a separate activity; it is incorporated into the fabric of everything we do.
During staff training, I teach the importance of listening and observing: there are teachable moments every day, if we are paying attention. As a result, we have amazing staff who do work that most trained educators cannot do around social justice. Here are a few ways this looks in practice:
- Music—When we sing “If You Missed Me At the Back of the Bus,” we talk with the kids about the song’s history and meaning.
- Discussions—We openly discuss social justice issues with campers in our big rainbow circle and in smaller groups.
- Writing—This year, staff wrote all of their camper letters without using pronouns, in order to be inclusive of all.
- Books—We have an extensive library of books from a diverse list of authors and illustrators which cover a broad range of social justice topics. When a child was misgendered, for example, the counselor was able to read their group a children’s book to facilitate a discussion about stereotypes.
So, when folks ask me, “How do you do social justice?” I reply, “It’s integrated all throughout camp.” It’s not all of who we are; it’s just part of who we are. We aren’t perfect, of course, and each year we learn by opening our ears more. My favorite thing to hear from our campers is an echo of this recent camper’s experience: “The BDC is where I can be myself.”