Quick Tips for Welcoming ALL Campers

Being the new kid on the block is a tough challenge for anyone, but coming from a newcomer or immigrant community can sometimes make it feel like it’s even harder to fit in. However, camp counselors have a unique opportunity to make members of these communities feel right at home!

kids with arms around each other

Here are a few quick tips:

1. Do Your Homework

Spend time learning about the countries of national origin of new immigrant families. Consider ways camp can integrate cultural norms, traditions or customs in an appropriate and sensitive manner. For example, being mindful of dietary restrictions, faith traditions, gestures, cultural dress or greetings as you develop the camp day agenda and activities can really help make families feel at home.

2. Create a Welcoming Environment

Finding space to display national flags or incorporating the translation of simple words such as “hello” or “welcome” in signage and printed collateral are simple ways to help new community members feel welcome.

3. Get Staff Involved

Encourage all staff to share and celebrate diverse cultural self-identities, knowledge and perspectives and create safe, welcoming and cohesive spaces for all. 

4. Provide Space to Share

Discover ways campers can celebrate and lift up their cultural identities. Allowing youth to reflect or share can be a fun, learning experience for everyone at camp. However, be aware that some campers may have a limited understanding of their family history or their family’s immigration experience may be challenging or painful to share. Always encourage the group to share to a degree that they are comfortable.

Looking for more tips and support?

Have a question about implementing best practices in diversity, inclusion and global engagement? Email DIG@ymca.net

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The YMCA is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to put Christian principles into practice through programs that build healthy spirit, mind and body for all.