In recent weeks, 3 police officers were shot and killed in Baton Rouge and another 5 in Dallas. Those 8 officers left behind 11 children in total. According to the Washington Post, 533 people have been killed by police in 2016, most of whom were armed and dangerous, some of whom were not. For some reason, the press doesn't report on which of those victims had children, but let's assume that at least a handful did. On the surface, it may seem the children of those two groups are on different sides of a great big wall that divides right from wrong or black from white. In reality, all of those children have joined a club that makes them more similar than different in the most important way that matters to them right now. Each of those children has lost a parent. Many people in their lives won't know what to say or do to make it better. Most of them will feel like nobody understands what they're going through.
Grief doesn't know black from white. It doesn't care who was holding the gun and who wasn't. It doesn't know wrong from right. Grief has no correlation to wealth, privilege, socioeconomics, religious beliefs, or political views. It is the great unifier. At Experience Camps, those in the club seek out the others who "get it". They look for similarities in their stories and experiences to feel normal in their own. They recognize differences with compassion and a desire to understand.
This year, we spent a lot of time in the off-season talking about Inclusion and Diversity. We have reflected on our own perceptions and beliefs and have broken down assumptions about individuals and groups of people that we didn't even know we were making. We realized a vision for Experience Camps that values difference and the need to respect, understand and embrace those differences. At camp, we will relay this vision to our campers in words and actions and they will know there is at least one place they can go where they are accepted and safe. Maybe some day the rest of the world will do the same.