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An Introduction and a Commitment

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It is a wet, rainy day on the Preserve where the weather can’t decide if it’s winter or spring. However, all of this liquid sunshine is coaxing ephemeral blooms out of the ground. Daffodils and crocuses are in full bloom and trout lilies, lady slippers, and trilliums are pushing green shoots up through the leaf litter. I love the transition of spring. The time change this week brought daylight back into the early evenings (and wreaked total havoc on my household’s internal clocks!) Spring is the promise of regeneration and renewal after the long, dark winter months and I, for one, could not be more excited for its arrival.

I’m Hayne and I am the Director of Communication and Strategic Partnerships on our administrative team here at camp. I wear many hats throughout the year as we are a small yet mighty group. I have spoken with or emailed with many of you as you register your children for camp, seek clarity around the best session or course for your camper or expeditioner. I work in collaboration with Anne to find and write grants that will allow our camp to grow to support the needs of our programs as we dream big and look ahead. Actually, so much of the work that we do behind the scenes is a collaborative effort. During the summer, if let out of the office, you will often find me out at the pioneer cabin. It is a quiet place in the middle of camp where kids slow down and great conversations can be had while we tend fires in the wood-burning stove and in the outdoor kitchen. Alongside fire building and tending, I teach cooking, needle felting, candle making, gourd craft, salve making and more. I love getting to know so many campers around this shared space while working alongside each other on projects. I am lucky to live on the Preserve year round with my family - my husband Jonathan (who is our Music Director and one of our mentors), my 13 year old twin sons Hamlin and Zeb, our 16 year old daughter Isabel - who spends her school years in New Jersey at The Lawrenceville School, four dogs (did anyone else pick up a new pet or two this past year?), 10 hens and a rooster. The trails of camp and neighboring DuPont Forest have kept us sane and grounded this past year which brought a myriad of challenges to our family. I don’t take any of it for granted.

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For well over a year now, I have had the privilege of being part of an intentional shift towards making GRP more accessible, diverse, inclusive, and equitable. This shift is a core pillar of our strategic plan - to make GRP’s camper and staff population more diverse and inclusive. On behalf of our team, I attended a weekend-long seminar facilitated by the Racial Equity Institute, a national organization that seeks to provide individuals, organizations, and communities with tools to challenge patterns of power and grow equity. With the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement, we received thoughtful and thorough feedback from many of our stakeholders over the summer calling us in to do better. We listened. We invited further feedback through a survey sent to our community. This fall, we participated in the NAAEE (North American Assoc. Of Environmental Education) annual conference Inspire Change! So many fantastic resources came from this gathering that will inform our work here. If you haven’t yet had the opportunity to read or hear from Dr. Ayana Elizabeth Johnson (who gave a keynote address at the conference), you should definitely explore her work. Her podcast “How to Save a Planet” is spectacular!

This winter, with the support of our Board, we created a focus group of alumni, former staff, current seasonal staff, parents, and educators to examine our culture and policies on both micro- and macro- levels. This focus group meets bi-weekly and its work is ongoing. Last month, our entire admin team and several of our board members joined in on a webinar facilitated by Teresa Baker, Pattie Gonia, and Vasu Sojitra from Diversify Outdoors that addressed how to work with underrepresented communities without the feeling of tokenism. We know that we have made mistakes in our past. We are certain that there will be missteps moving forward. Regardless, we are committed to staying the course. We appreciate the encouragement, the support, and the accountability of this community. This work is difficult and ongoing and we are committed to it.

We remain deeply grateful that you choose or have chosen to spend your summers with us. Everyone deserves the opportunity to see themselves as an inextricable part of the environment rather than separate from it. Green River Preserve is the camp we need for the world we want.