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Update from Pemi’s DEI Committee

Today’s post comes from Lisa Heller, a current Pemi parent, member of the Pemi Board, and the chair of our DEI Committee. Lisa is mom to enthusiastic Pemi camper Jackson, who started his career in J1 in 2016. She believes strongly in the value of volunteerism and has served on several local Brooklyn and national nonprofit boards in the areas of community development, youth development, and equity. Lisa has spent the majority of her professional career in financial services and analysis, recently pivoting to internal process improvement. She is a graduate of the University of California at Berkeley and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

February 2022 DEI Update

Pemi’s commitment to making the camp experience more diverse and inclusive has remained strong over the past year. I’m delighted to be supporting that effort as the new chair of the board’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) Committee and update you on a few of our recent activities.

I’m so pleased that a DEI lens has been embraced at every level at Pemi. Last spring, the Pemi board launched four action groups to focus on recommendations that came out of the comprehensive DEI survey of Fall 2020 and create actionable plans. Pemi also asked Assistant Director Pat Clare to take on the heavy lifting – and accountability – for implementing those plans, as well as embedding DEI objectives into Pemi programming year round. Head of Staff, Will Meinke, and Director of Programs, Wendy Young, also lent their expertise to the action groups as experienced staff leaders and a former camper.

Despite the challenges and intensity of COVID planning and the increased workload the staff took on to keep the community healthy and active last summer, we were able to implement a number of changes to enhance the Pemi experience from an inclusivity perspective.

Recommendations that the staff and management team enthusiastically ran with in 2021 included expanded staff pre-season training on equity topics; removal of insensitive language and imagery from programs, songs, names, and buildings; outreach to and land acknowledgement of the Abenaki tribe and former inhabitants of the region surrounding Pemi; and supporting the role of women at camp.

The board has also approved a generous proportion of financial aid to help increase the numbers of traditionally underrepresented campers and paved the way for significant partnerships with schools and organizations that can help us reach these campers.

This year, the DEI action groups will be bringing their energy to additional initiatives and revisiting past efforts to build on the initial momentum. New focus areas will include outreach to increase the diversity of staffers, the handling of economic inequality and continued focus on celebrating all kinds of achievement in programming.

As you’ve hopefully heard before, the DEI Committee welcomes your feedback, your engagement and your referrals! Please reach out to Kenny Moore or Pat Clare if you know of a potential camper or staffer who would benefit from a summer at Pemi.

And as always, the DEI goal is not to turn Pemi into a different camp or bend to the buzzword of the day, but to make it an environment where every boy can find inspiration and support to become a self-reliant, caring and engaged citizen of our diverse and ever-changing world.

Looking forward to a great 2022 season!

Lisa

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