When campers first arrived at SCATS and scampered into the auditorium for orientation, we reiterated the values that inform all our rules and activities at camp. At the core of those values is a desire to ensure all students leave camp feeling even more empowered about who they are as people than when they arrived. Our camp represents students from all spans of life, and to ensure that our diverse group of campers are all able to enjoy their time at camp, the adult team emphasizes the importance of our culture of care.
The culture of care at SCATS not only includes respecting differences in identity, culture, and ideologies among campers and counselors, but also encouraging and celebrating those differences while prioritizing a focus on positivity. It includes an emphasis on ensuring our actions always uplift rather than disparage, and our campers have earnestly embraced these values. During community time, one camper was excitedly telling me about his little brother but stopped in the middle of his story, turned to another camper, and apologized, “I’m sorry; you said you wanted to share a story about your sister. Go ahead.” During floor time, a group of my campers were playing Uno and noticed one of their fellow campers watching them play and enthusiastically encouraged him to join in.
Perhaps most importantly, as I walk around during community time and meals, I see campers sitting with diverse friend groups. Despite the cacophony filling the dining halls and common spaces, if you listen in, you can hear campers respectfully discussing cultural and ideological differences before cheerfully moving on to chatting about how to play card games or weave friendship bracelets. No matter what walk of life our campers come from, they have all found a community where they are celebrated here at SCATS.