Supporting Transformative Relationships in Diverse Environments (STRIDE) Working Group Annual Reports
The text of recently received Annual Reports are below, with the most recently received at the top and older reports below. To jump to a particular report, simply click the year listed below.
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This year began following the typical STRIDE cycle: in Fall, we met with families to get feedback from the summer and held some small fundraisers (like Ice Cream First-daes!). In the Winter, we held the first of many STRIDE movie nights to raise money and build community over the viewing of social justice related films, as well as applied for grants. We worked to get STRIDE campers registered for camp and recruited new campers through our networks.
When the pandemic hit in March, all in-person events were cancelled, including a phone bank we had scheduled (the phone-a-thons tend to be our biggest fundraiser of the year). We pivoted to holding all STRIDE meetings exclusively over Zoom, and also figured out a way to hold our movie nights over Zoom. We have continued the movie nights every few weeks; with members of the community we have watched all four episodes of When They See Us, Crip Camp, and The Black Power Mixtape 1967-1975. We plan to continue these into the summer, including family friendly options.
In May, when camp was officially cancelled, we pivoted again. Baltimore STRIDE held a virtual meeting with STRIDE families to talk to them about the announcement, share camp stories, and reflect on what camp means to us. We have since been focusing on mutual aid. For example, we were able to deliver masks to one family, and provide financial assistance to another. Additionally, we have been working closely with the Reparations Group on actions that support racial justice. This includes mutual aid, conversations around mass incarceration and discussions around race and policing.
Finally, we have been planning for how to stay engaged during the summer. We hope to be able to support STRIDE campers in attending other local day camps. Additionally, in conjunction with CPC we are planning camp activities and resources that can help keep the spirit of camp alive for STRIDE campers and the wider community this summer.
Challenges at Camp
At the beginning of our year, after the BYM Annual Sessions, we heard that while the STRIDE Program generally went well last summer, there was an incident of racial harassment from a motorist as campers were walking to Camp Opequon from Hopewell Centre Friends Meeting. During the same trip, campers also had an interaction with a grounds person at Hopewell Center (where they were staying that night) that was racially charged and harmful. This brought up feelings of distrust and safety both within the geographical region of camp as well as within our own organizations. One camper found these experiences so unsettling that she did not want to come back in 2020. In November 2019, the committee discussed our role in supporting camp members in healing from racial trauma. Ideas and questions discussed included:
- Whether this incident, which took place on a roadway, was reported to local law enforcement? Do we need to identify a protocol for such situations?
- STRIDE will provide an anonymous online survey to collect feedback about campers’ experiences at camp.
- Pre-identify safe people to talk to during camp session. If conversations about experiences take place face-to-face, we are able to find out who needs help and what kind of help.
- A response protocol largely falls to the Camping Program Committee, but this is a good opportunity for our committees to work together.
- We should consider reaching out to law enforcement prior to the start of camp, bearing in mind that, for some of us, calling on law enforcement may not be a safe option.
- We do not know what law enforcement’s reaction to such an incident would be.
- We should draw on resources in the community, such as reaching out to local Black churches, to learn their recommended approach to contacting law enforcement and what they tell their children about encountering hostility.
- STRIDE could provide training for counselors on how to dialogue with campers on these topics and how to create a safe space for campers to process racial traumas, whether they are small episodes or as major incidents. Current training includes discussing racism, but it can be increased to include bystander training.
Goals and Structure of the Program
We responded to questions from the General Secretary about the STRIDE program with which to focus Khalila’s work. These asked about the goals of the STRIDE program, including about diversity and inclusion at our camps. We noted a sub goal integrated in those goals: through education and openness, a community of authentic connection will result, not just more people of color attending. We learned that each STRIDE group holds two main fundraisers (fall and spring) and then sees how much money they have raised before deciding what other fundraising is necessary. They try to include the campers who attended the previous summer and to send at least as many each year. If time and resources permit, they try to recruit more campers. This is independently decided each year by each STRIDE group.
Khalila has reported a sense that her work at this time will be in Washington DC, Baltimore, and Philadelphia. She has described how group members have asked her to provide more connections across the groups and to update contact information for each person. We learned that, based on past experience, the number of members of the core group in each city should be more than four and fewer than eight. We also learned that grant applications are being written, with each group communicating with the BYM Development Director and money going into funds for diversity and inclusion.
While the STRIDE groups in Baltimore, Philadelphia, and DC are doing well, the former Charlottesville STRIDE is not currently active. There will be a family feedback session in mid-October and a winter fundraiser after that. GDL members were encouraged to attend fundraisers or practice hikes.
GDLC named liaisons to each of the three active STRIDE groups. Each liaison is in touch with their group and typically joins its regular virtual meetings. Each also helps support fund raising and joins STRIDE “movie night” and other events. When the announcement came from BYM that in-person camping would not be held in 2020, each STRIDE group began planning other summer activities. That planning is ongoing. Each liaison reports at our GDL monthly meetings.
In October, Khalila Lomax was hired by BYM as STRIDE Coordinator. She had spent the last few years in work connecting anti-racism to outdoor education with a few different groups and is excited to bring those relevant skills here to BYM.
In June we sent responses to Supervisory Committee to queries that committee sent to BYM committees responsible for working with staff employed by BYM. We emphasized the ongoing, year-round nature of STRIDE work, and the strong value that we have found in Khalila Lomax’s employment on behalf of STRIDE campers, STRIDE group members, and GDL. We spoke of Khalila’s dedication, initiative, intelligence, work ethic, and availability. We indicated that cuts to her availability threatened the stability of the program (which lost a city the last time staff dedicated to staff was absent) and undermined our commitment to the recently adopted BYM Declaration as an Anti-Racist Worship Community.
No report received.
No report received.
No report received.
No report received.