April 5, 2022
The Guardian recently published insight featuring Paul Hutchinson, Senior Lecturer of Management & Organizations, on the steps camping communities are taking to combat cultural appropriation.
The article discusses the recent decisions made by many camps across the continent to rename the camps and cabins which was top of mind for many camp professionals at the recent American Camp Association (ACA) conference in February. Although many camps have agreed with the decision to rename, many camps still choose to dress their campers in Native American outfits or split them into “tribes.” The article highlights the resources ACA offers for camps looking to make these changes, but they lack specific guidelines and rules for camps to follow that prohibit appropriation. Campaigners emphasize the importance of camp communities removing their Native American names and associations because of the large population of campers in America, making camps a cultural force. Paul elaborates on this by stating, “outside of public school, more American kids experience summer camp than any other institution.”
Former campers argue that the disagreement lies with the camp being part of their identity, a tradition that has become part of their family. Paul highlights by explaining that,
“In some cases, you’ve got five generations of a family that have gone to the same camp on the shores of the same lake in the same mountains and done the same ritual. There’s not a lot of things in American culture that you can say that your great-great-grandfather did just like you,” he says. “A lot of people are reacting to what became their family history and traditions, and not wanting to question it – but also not really wanting to go deeper, to realize who is being silenced in that process.”