Equity & Inclusion

Camp Olson YMCA is committed to advancing equity, inclusion, and diversity within our camp community and promoting access and opportunities for all.

We strive to ensure that everyone, regardless of ability, age, cultural background, ethnicity, faith, gender, gender expression, gender identity, ideology, income, national origin, race or sexual orientation feels welcomed, affirmed, supported and has the opportunity to reach their full potential with dignity and respect.

Our diverse camper community should grow to reflect our larger community’s demographics. Campers and staff can look forward to interacting and living within this diverse and supportive environment. We recognize that both access to and success in our programs requires intentional work, to cultivate respect, eliminate systemic barriers, and address injustice head-on.  We believe that words must be followed by progress, action, and accountability. We recognize that our efforts will be ongoing and evolving as we continue to grow, learn, collaborate, and press for an equitable future.

We believe every child should have the opportunity to experience camp, regardless of their family’s financial situation. Support is extended to families who demonstrate a wide range of financial need. Our campership aid budget is limited, and we encourage those seeking support to apply early by completing a camp application and the campership application.

Submit a Campership Application today.

Racial Diversity

Creating a welcoming environment for people who have been historically underrepresented is a priority for Camp Olson YMCA. We intend to work toward creating spaces where BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, Persons of Color), AAPI (Asian American, Pacific Islander), and all individuals feel affirmed, accepted, and represented in our community.

Gender Inclusivity & Affirming LGBTQ+

We provide safe, affirming spaces for all campers and staff, including those that identify as LGBTQ+. It is important for us to support all in our community regardless of their sexual orientation, gender expression, or gender identity. We rely on our trained staff to support age-appropriate conversations and guide discussions when they arise.

We recognize that our community includes gender identities that do not fit neatly into binary (girl/boy) gender categories, and we strive to create inclusive spaces for all campers and staff. As we work to provide as inclusive of a camp experience as possible, we offer our campers the opportunity to stay in a gender-expansive cabin while guaranteeing a boy-identifying or girl-identifying cabin for anyone that prefers this. 

Supporting Ability & Neurodiversity

We welcome people of all abilities and can make reasonable accommodations. We strive to provide support and remove barriers that may impact a camper’s or staff’s ability to fully participate in our programs. We recognize that our grounds may be difficult for people to navigate with certain physical disabilities. We value neurodiversity and can meet the needs of many neurodivergent campers, but we may not be able to accommodate every need that exists. Our camp may not be the best fit for every camper. To best support your camper, clear communication about the level of support your child requires is critical in preparing them for success.

Removing Barriers

We recognize that there are many interpersonal, intrapersonal, and structural barriers to accessing camp. These may include the cost of camp, transportation, family schedule, appropriate gear, camper readiness, historical trauma, program structure and supervision. In our efforts to make camp an equitable space, we do our best to navigate or eliminate these barriers. We already have many initiatives and support in place, but please reach out if there is any additional support or information we can provide.

YMCA Camp Olson welcomes all participants. Our goal is to promote kindness, good manners, and consideration for all people in the camp community. Camp Olson seeks to create an environment that is free from discrimination and devoid of violence, intimidation, or harassment based on race, creed, color, national origin, religion, gender identity, sexual orientation, or disability. We strive to be a place that embraces and celebrates diversity in all aspects of humanity.

All participants are expected to respect other people, including campers, family members, guests, and Camp Olson employees. Participants must be responsible for themselves and their own actions. It is not acceptable in our community to mock, bully, harass, intimidate, or attempt to exclude people. Within camp, participants and guests are expected to practice respect, cooperation, and compromise. For the protection of every participant, we reserve the right to deny or cancel the enrollment of any participant who cannot behave appropriately within the camp community.

We will not tolerate emotional or physical abuse or sexual harassment. For the protection of all participants, we reserve the right to immediately dismiss any participant or guest, without refund, as a result of any behavior which affects another participant’s or guest’s ability to enjoy the community of camp, or seriously disrupts our program. Parents, legal guardians, or group leaders will be notified of our decision to terminate a minor’s participation at camp.

Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Justice (DEIJ) is paramount in our efforts to support and enhance the summer camp community. Because of this, the Board of Directors has commissioned a DEIJ Task Force that is tasked with helping inform strategy and decisions, as well as being a catalyst for change within Camp Olson YMCA and our communities.

Created in 2020, the DEIJ Task Force -with representatives of alumni, full-time staff, seasonal staff, parents, and the Board of Directors – meets regularly to formalize plans for improvements and initiatives as we embrace the opportunity to grow as a camp community and organization.

Focus Areas include:
  • History, Traditions, and Culture
  • Training & Education
  • Access & Representation
  • Transparency & Accountability

Take a look at what we’ve accomplished so far and plans for the future:

What we’ve done:
  • Created the Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Justice (DEIJ) Task Force
  • Included a DEIJ discussion to every board meeting agenda
  • Added DEIJ-focused training sessions for staff facilitated by experts in the field
  • Board of Directors Book Club discussion of Caste
  • Created a Land Acknowledgement Statement which has been included into Camp Programming and Communications
  • Created an alternative Counselor-in-Training program
What we’re working on:
  • Hiring a DEIJ Consultant
  • Creating a Social Justice Resource Library
  • Weaving DEIJ-focused topics and values into our Leadership curricula
  • Updating our scholarship application and process to be more accessible and equitable
  • Evaluating various traditions and camp culture, including re-naming cabins and updating the Song Book.
  • Growing partnerships with local youth-serving organizations such as the Boys and Girls Club Club, St. Cloud YMCA, and the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe.
  • Developing mentor groups and affinity spaces for first-year staff, BIPOC, LGBTQIA+, and staff with diverse abilities.