Where We Are
YWCA Toronto’s Camp Tapawingo is reflecting.
With 2021 summer programs closed, we have started the necessary work to re-imagine what Camp should be and plan for the future by focusing on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. Our goal is that all camp participants, counsellors, and staff feel empowered, fully valued, and included in Camp.
While we have progressed in increasing racial and economic diversity through our subsidy program, which is supported by our fundraising efforts and generous donors, Camp Tapawingo has been largely white and middle class in its camper and staff populations.
Part of moving forward involves hearing from racially and economically diverse community members to listen and act upon their feedback. A newly employed Director of Girls, Youth and Family Programs, Racheal Lawrence, was hired to lead this work together with Liz Greenway and Jo Dwhytie, our valued camp leaders.
What We Have Done So Far
In 2020, we engaged external consultants to conduct an audit to provide recommendations to address diversity to increase a new, more inclusive version of YWCA Toronto’s Camp Tapawingo. Surveys were sent out in December 2020 to parents and alumnae to gather perspectives on this diversity audit. A total of 230 responses were submitted.
One thing was clear: unanimous praise for the virtues of the camp experience, confirming Camp Tapawingo’s longstanding success in providing a safe and supportive community for camp participants and staff to thrive.
However, the audit uncovered the perspectives of the Camp community as a whole, including parents and alumnae with other views. Mixed in with the praise and gratitude were statements that illustrated where we missed the mark and caused unintentional harm. We received statements of support to make Camp Tapawingo a more diverse and inclusive camp.
In February 2021, we decided not to open the Camp for the 2021 season to pause and re-imagine the camp program’s racial and economic diversity and to ensure the safety of campers and staff during the continued threat of COVID-19.
We know that this news was difficult for the campers, parents and alumnae. We heard so clearly how they value the Camp, and we recognize their unhappiness about the closure. We appreciate the understanding of campers, parents and alumnae and look forward to their contribution in re-imagining of Camp.
Where We’re Going
We aspire to be a Camp representative of Toronto’s diverse landscape and to be a welcoming space where all Camp participants, counsellors, and staff feel safe and valued. We strive to be a community where individuals can be their best selves. In the words of Jesse Jackson, “inclusion is not a matter of political correctness. It is the key to growth.”
The Road Ahead
Since YWCA Toronto announced its Diversity, Equity and Inclusion plans for Camp Tapawingo, we have received an outpouring of support from our camp community.
Some changes can be made immediately, while others will take some time. We are committed to this process and will certainly keep you posted on updates.
Comments or Feedback?
We invite members of Camp Tapawingo to share their experiences, provide feedback, or ask a question.
Please contact us directly: Racheal Lawrence, Director of Girls, Youth and Family Programs, at RLawrence@ywcatoronto.org