Courage. Defined in the dictionary as the ability to do something that frightens one; strength in the face of pain or grief. In the context of typical Science School programming, we frame this for students and campers as ‘stepping outside of our comfort zones’. Courage gives us the ability to learn, expand our thinking, build skills, and engage in new experiences. It’s something we hope to inspire in our participants at KSS, through safe yet challenging opportunities.
It’s only fitting that this summer’s theme is the Summer of Courage. We’re seeing courage show up in many ways – parents trusting us to care for their children in the midst of a pandemic; staff developing new systems and processes to make programming possible; and children putting facial coverings on each day to experience camp.
We’re also considering how courage shows up in the face of disturbing headlines of racial injustice and protests. As an organization whose founder, Bob Craig, firmly believed in science as the guide for discourse and who believed a non-biased approach was critical for educators to embrace and make room for independent and critical thinking– we’ve shied away from taking a stance on issues. It isn’t in our DNA, so to speak. But in the context of recent headlines, we recognize the need to reaffirm our commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion so that the impact of our work is truly accessible to people from all communities.
We know that Keystone Science School and the outdoor and experiential education industry can do better to welcome equity. Recognizing that the journey will take focused time, resources, and work, the KSS team developed a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) Task Force in November, 2019. The DEI Task Force is charged with researching the work of DEI in our industry, gathering resources and tools to educate ourselves on this important work, and creating a plan to effectively weave DEI into all facets of our organization.
We believe that the outdoors is an educational and healing space that everyone should have access to and the ability to enjoy. We believe that it is our responsibility to be an engaged, educated, open-minded, and active organization working to break down the systems and practices that limit access. We believe in educating ourselves, challenging and shifting our thinking, and in creating new and engaging opportunities at KSS for diverse staff, youth, and board members to be a part of our mission.
Acknowledging our need to do better and restarting the work of the DEI Task Force is just the beginning. We will not back away. We will listen. We will learn. We will lean into the spaces that might be tough or that stretch our comfort zones so we can continue to have courageous conversations that lead to the change we need. We hope that you’ll join us in our efforts in a way that is meaningful to you.