Summer camp is a unique environment. It’s the only place where a group of children from different backgrounds can live together for a few weeks. At school, there can be interaction among children from different backgrounds. Sleepaway camp, however, is the only place where they live and truly spend every moment with each other (it sounds like the synopsis of a reality TV show).
There are cabin groups where every child gets along, celebrates each other’s backgrounds, and has an amazing time.
There are also cabin groups where it takes a skilled camp counselor or director to facilitate the group getting to that same spot. All summer camp alumni have seen this at one time or another.
A great book that has helped me learn how to talk children about this difficult issue is “Racism Explained to My Daughter” by Tahar Ben Jelloun. The author does an amazing job of breaking the book into a dialogue between him and his daughter. Her innocent questions and his easy to understand answers helped me get my head around such a difficult topic to convey. I’ve used this book as a reference with dealing with issues surrounding race, religion, socio-economic status, and even the frivolous opposing sports fans.
It’s a quick read that I whole heartedly recommend to any camp professional – from camp owner to camp counselor, resident or day camp.