BYM camps derive strength from this core Quaker belief:
There is that of the Light in everyone.
Some people call this Light, God, the Divine or the Spirit, and we recognize it as something that is part of each person and unites us together.
This means we celebrate and empower all campers, staff, work granters (volunteers) and visitors in each of our identities, including but not limited to categories of race, class, gender expression, sexual orientation, ability, religion and age.
These values listed here are a part of the Quaker tradition and many other religious and non-religious traditions. At camp, we live out these values as best we can!
allowing connections to each other and our surroundings to flourish
conflict resolution through deep listening
acting on our inner voice, which is guided by truth and justice
playing, living and working together
valuing each other’s gifts and working to make camp available for all
giving support and care to our environment and people near us
In our staff training, one of our main ideas and desires is for every camper to feel ownership of their summer experience, as well as learn about, recognize and respect the experiences of those around them. Collected here is additional information and age-appropriate resources on some topics we train on and talk about at camp.
- We are all growing and we want to help each other grow.
- Calling someone in means courageously and kindly holding someone accountable for a mistake or offense they have made. We have a commitment to let each other know our mistakes, knowing none of us is perfect. Calling in is about fostering growth in ourselves in a multitude of areas.
A micro-aggression is a brief and commonplace statement or action motivated by conscious or subconscious bias.
An article on micro-aggressions: https://socialwork.simmons.edu/everyday-stings-the-power-and-pain-of-microaggressions/.
- Members of a dominant group exploiting the culture of less privileged groups – often with little understanding of the latter’s history, experience and traditions
- Can result in monetary gain or fame
- Trying other people’s identities on as costumes, while people who live within their skin, hair, culture, and gender identity struggle for acceptance
- Talking about Cultural Appropriation with Young Kids
Baltimore Yearly Meeting Camps are made up of campers and staff of many backgrounds, socio-economic levels, gender identities, sexual orientations, faiths, and racial and ethnic identities. We strive to create an inclusive community that holds all members in the Light as we work, play and enjoy time in nature together. We believe camp provides a unique opportunity for young people who might not otherwise meet to share a unique experience of joy, wonder, vulnerability, and empowerment together as they connect with each other. We acknowledge that BYM Camps have historically been white institutions and that outdoor education and recreation spaces have a history of inequality and underrepresentation.
We endeavor to become a more inclusive and equitable organization in which we amplify the voices of people of color among us and help to actively confront racial bias within ourselves and our community. Some of the things we have done to work towards these goals include continuing education, responding to feedback from our camp families and seeking to include more campers of color in our programs. For more than 10 years we have partnered with STRIDE to sponsor campers of color and challenged socio-economic status. In this same time period, Equity, Diversity and Inclusivity training has been part of pre-camp activities for counselors and staff in order to help work toward these goals. We acknowledge that these steps are only a beginning and that there is more that BYM camps can do to become an anti-racist organization.
We recognize that we are an organization that is predominantly white, and therefore we need to work harder to reach our goal of being inclusive, open, accepting, and inviting to campers, staff, and volunteers of all backgrounds. We wish to disrupt and challenge the notion that it is acceptable for outdoor recreation to be a space of white privilege. We also recognize that our camps each reside within specific geographical communities and that we can take action within those towns and districts to work towards true equity and justice in those broader environments in which BYM Camps are located. We are dedicating time to review our practices and to improve our programming, and we welcome dialog and feedback as we continue to grow.
Approximately 28% of our campers were campers of color in 2018.
About 15% of our campers receive financial aid directly from BYM Camps. 30% of campers received financial help in 2018 from a combination of grants, STRIDE support, contributions and scholarships from Monthly Meetings, and BYM financial aid.
Financial Aid is available, dispersed on the basis of declared need. Please do not hesitate to apply for Financial Aid – we want all campers to be able to attend! Please go to the camp registration portal and fill out a financial aid form online.
Work Grants help families afford camp and get necessary jobs done at camp! These volunteer positions include cook, maintenance person, and medical person. Parents, family members or other adults can work at camp for a week in exchange for a $500 credit toward camp fees.
For more info on work grants, go to the work grant page. If you are 21 or older and would like a work grant, please register yourself on the camp registration portal. All volunteers must consent to a criminal background check in order to be eligible to work/volunteer at camp.
We have growing collections of gear at each camp available to campers and staff who need it for trips or in camp.
Sexism & Gender
More info on Worship and Silence here.
Dear fellow parents,
As a product of the BYM camping program, and now a parent of two BYM campers, I feel strongly that the summertime camp experience is an important one in a child’s development. As I look back on my own life, I credit the camping program for helping me to develop a strong and positive self identity (during a time in my life when I was quite unsure of who I was and my place in the world); with learning how to have positive relationships with others- male, female, older, younger; with experiencing safe risk-taking; and with deepening and clarifying my sense of spirituality. While I was very fortunate to have been raised in a loving, supportive family, and I attended good schools, it was my camping experience that I believe truly formulated who I am
Now I approach the camping program from a parent’s perspective. I am far more concerned with safety (both physical and emotional) and social issues for my children than I am with adventure and fun. And I experienced the gut-wrenching feeling of having a child tell me they were homesick and unhappy. How could you be homesick in such a fabulous place as camp? What
should I do as the parent? Do I leave my child there or take them home to the safety of our home?
I was inspired to write this letter after reading Michael Thompson’s book Homesick and Happy: How Time Away from Parents Can Help a Child Grow. This is a very readable book by a psychologist who has written extensively about child development and who is a camp enthusiast. Dr. Thompson visited a variety of camps while researching this book and provides stories and
anecdotes that support the power and benefit of a child’s experience away from home. I think what surprised me most about this book is how accurately Thompson described what goes on at camps and how closely the descriptions matched the BYM camps! He described community meals where children sit in mixed age groups and are supervised by older teenagers or young adults; rituals; singing; campfires; raucous games; physical challenges; and proud story-telling of adventures. Thompson’s book helped me see that while the BYM camps may not be unique, the experiences they provide are vital. He described several things that parents cannot do for our children that can only be done on their own- without our supervision. These include developing self-esteem, independence and even happiness. Time away from home, at a safe, nurturing camp like those provided by the BYM camping program, provides the experiences children need to develop these important life competencies.
As a parent, I am constantly thinking about what is best for my children. When is it best for me to step in, when is it best for me to step aside and let them learn on their own? Often, there isn’t a clear-cut answer to this question. But I do believe that parents shouldn’t always step in- that good parenting is a process of teaching children independence and self-reliance. Children can’t learn these if we don’t allow them time and opportunities to be independent and to rely on themselves. Of course I am not recommending we abandon our children, but I am a strong proponent of letting children experience developmentally appropriate challenges in their lives.
The BYM camping program has over 90 years of experience challenging, nurturing and providing a spiritual home for children and young adults. It is a program that allows young people to take appropriate risks and to safely challenge themselves emotionally, physically and spiritually. It fosters children’s growth. Sometimes as parents, we need to set aside our own doubts and fears and let the “experts” do their job- creating strong, independent young people.
My formerly homesick child completed a 4-week session at camp this summer and came home confident, centered, energized and happy. What more could a parent want?
BYM camper 1974-1979
BYM counselor 1980-1982
Teen Adventure Leader 1984-1985
BYM Parent 2008 to present
Institutional ways BYM Camps continue to grow and learn
- Campers of Color Caucus – meetings held with campers of color during camp session to develop affinity and receive feedback
- Staff of Color Caucus – meetings held with staff of color during camp session to develop affinity and receive feedback
- Equity, Diversity, Inclusion (EDI) Staff Committee – regular meetings throughout the summer with volunteer staff members to audit and act on any suggestions or changes to make camp more inclusive
- Quarterly Camp Director meetings on Equity, Diversity, Inclusion (EDI) – camp directors from all four camps share knowledge and experience and create resources for each other
- STRIDE – STRIDE groups in Baltimore, Philadelphia, the Greater DC Area and Charlottesville work to:
- create access for youth in each of these cities to attend Baltimore Yearly Meeting camps
- create communities of genuine diversity, equity, and inclusion in these youth-serving programs
- Growing Diverse Leadership Committee – BYM Ad-hoc committee
- Read more here: https://bymcamps.org/taking-strides/
Equity work is always a work in progress – we are learning and developing!
Do you have feedback? We would love to hear from you! Contact us!