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Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, & Justice

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You Belong Here

Our greatest impacts at GRP are connecting youth with the transformative powers of the outdoors, empowering them to be authentically themselves, and inspiring them to become the next generation of environmental stewards. To achieve this, we must make the necessary changes and adaptations to foster an inclusive and accessible space for all people regardless of their identities.


Regardless of race, color, sex, gender identity and expression, sexual orientation, faith or religion, cultural observance, national or ethnic origin, family status, appearance, body type/size, educational background, socioeconomic status, and any other category people use to define themselves or others - you belong here.

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We do not just want to build a diverse camper and staff community at Green River Preserve, but we also want to foster an environment where diverse ideas and experiences are welcomed, and thoughtful stewardship supports accessibility to our programs. We acknowledge and seek to remove barriers by making our community more diverse, equitable, and inclusive.


  • Diversity: The differences between us based on which some of us experience systemic advantages and others encounter systemic disadvantaged, barriers or mistreatments.
  • Equity: Creating equal access for all; thinking more intentionally about allocating resources. Equity recognizes that advantages and barriers—the ‘isms’—exist. Equity is the approach & equality is the outcome.
  • Inclusion: Fostering a sense of belonging for everyone by amplifying the needs of those who have experienced more systemic disadvantages.
  • Justice: Dismantling barriers to access so everyone can live a full and dignified life. These barriers are essentially the “isms” in society: racism, classism, sexism, etc.
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Disrupting the Narrative

A dominant history of youth camps is rooted in colonialism, racism, and sexism. Many of the earliest youth camps were designed for white boys to ‘escape’ urban environments in fear that too much time at home would feminize them , and claimed appropriation of indigenous identities and culture to,“symbolize a wilderness environment and communicate a primitive experience.” Even then, the importance of spending time in nature on the mental and physical health of youth was being recognized by health professionals. As studies into access and time in nature deepened and camps became more popular, those oppressive beginnings remained culturally significant. We recognize that the stereotypes of who has access to nature, protects nature, and values nature must be disrupted, and we are making an active decision to change this narrative. Everyone deserves space at camp.

Our objective is to make GRP more accessible, diverse, inclusive, and equitable. We are certain that there will be missteps moving forward. Regardless, we are determined to stay the course. We appreciate the encouragement, support, and accountability of our community. This work is difficult and ongoing, and we are committed to it.

Land Acknowledgement

Multitudes of indigenous artifacts, dating from 10,000 BC to 500 AD, have been found on the Preserve over the years. We recognize that many indigenous peoples have lived in the valley before us.

We at Green River Preserve acknowledge, with respect, that the land we are on today is most recently the traditional homelands of the ᏣᎳᎫᏪᏘᏱ Tsalaguwetiyi (Cherokee, East).

After the protested ratification of the 1835 Treaty of New Echota, the Cherokee were forcefully removed from their 7 million acres of ancestral land with unfulfilled promises of a seat in the House of Representatives. This removal led to the 1,200 mile migration known as the Trail of Tears where up to 25% of the tribe died due to disease, starvation, and exhaustion. However, a small group of Cherokee managed to stay behind by hiding in the forests. Today, the Qualla Boundary just west of GRP is the home of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians. GRP continues to build relationships with and learn from our neighbors.

At GRP, we strive to honor the legacy of the Cherokee people by learning about their rich culture, building relationships with people of the nearby Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, and teaching our campers about the people and cultures who originally inhabited the land.

We invite all members of the Green River Preserve community to join us in learning more about the Cherokee and the many legacies in the places we call home.

Our goals and initiatives

One of Green River Preserve’s core pillars of our strategic plan is to make GRP’s camper and staff population more diverse and inclusive. During the fall of 2021, with the support of our Board, we created a focus group of alumni, former staff, current seasonal staff, parents, and educators to examine our camp culture and policies through both a micro- and macro- lens. We know that we have made mistakes in our past. As a year-round administrative team, we continue to examine and re-shape our policies, procedures, and traditions.

Some of our initiatives include…

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Holistic staff training

We host an intensive two week staff training for our seasonal staff before programming begins as well as day long trainings between sessions throughout the summer. We target multiple aspects of working with youth and living and working with friends in the camp community. This past year we brought in Dr. Travis Albritton to work with our entire staff for 2 days. Our admin team also participated in a workshop focused on creating inclusive spaces for all. We are continuing to prioritize DEIJ work as a foundational pillar for our staff training.

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Strengthening Partnerships

We have learned that working with organizations who are supporting underserved youth in their communities creates deeper relationships and stronger developments. We partner with 4 organizations in North and South Carolina that mentor youth throughout the school year and then help support them with summer opportunities like coming to camp. As our relationships have grown, we have been able to move from 3 campers in 2012 to 26 in 2022.

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Increasing Donors

We recognize that the cost of camp is not feasible for all families. We are committed to increasing our fundraising goals in order to provide more scholarships each year to campers who might not have the means to attend camp. We are so grateful to all our donors and hope that our community will continue to support our efforts to increase our camperships. As we walk through this development, we have identified a key area for growth is our alumni. GRP has served over 10,000+ campers and staff since 1988; however, we just have about 500 alumni in our database and even less who are actively involved. Just think of the collective power we could have if every alumni donated $5 a month ($5x 12 months x 10,000 = $600,000). This is an attainable goal.

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we are committed to this journey

At Green River Preserve, we grow when all feel accepted and welcomed in the outdoors. We are proud to share our efforts in diversity, equity, inclusion, and justice and are excited to continue to grow, share, and learn. We are building out an organization where young people can thrive in nature and at camp.