For this first time ever, we led a week of Leadership Training for our summer staff between Sessions One and Two of camp. It was a time for relaxation and recharge between groups of campers. But it was also a space for our impressive group of counselors to learn, discuss, and serve.
The week started with exploring our personalities in a workshop with Coach Doris Shannon who used the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator as a tool to help us look more deeply at our type preferences. Coach Doris taught us that everyone can perform each personality type, but by knowing our type preference, we can be more mindful of our strengths and therefore more effective in the world.
Our next step in examining our place in the movement for peace and justice was to explore our identities. Just as personality is affected by our genes and our upbringing, our identity is also influenced by both. We may be born with a certain skin tone, gender, or sexual orientation, but society confers meaning and privilege or oppression on each identity.
Each of us wrote down our most full name and told a story about our name. I was moved by how much of our identity is connected to our name. From our name stories, we learned about each other’s African birth, deeply held Christian faith, death of a loved one, tight-knit community, multi-generational family connections, strong Muslim values, difficulties with English as a second language, and relationship with our parents. What do the stories about your name convey about your identity?
As we wrote extensive lists of our intersecting identities, we asked, “What privileges do we gain from our identities? And what oppression do we experience as a result of our identities? Are there identities that we don’t even realize we have but that provide us privilege in the world?”
Living in a hearing-focused world, most hearing people don’t even realize they are hearing. But Deaf people sure know it! We wrapped up the week with a workshop about hearing privilege. DeAnna Swope helped us explore the privilege that comes from being hearing in a culture that centers hearing, and the oppression Deaf people experience living in that same culture.
As we welcome Deaf campers during Session Two, our staff will be more mindful of how all our identities, Black, white, immigrant, woman, Queer, … and hearing affect our relationships with campers.
Also during Leadership Training Week, we listened to and discussed stories of social change movements:
- Gandhi’s independence movement in India
- The Deaf President Now movement at Gallaudet University
- The Civil Rights Movement in Albany and Americus, Georgia
- The Fair Food Movement led by the Coalition of Immokalee Workers
- El Refugio hospitality house in Lumpkin, Georgia
- The New Sanctuary Movement
And each day, we had a discussion about a complex question within social justice movements:
- What leadership roles (if any) should be played by people who don’t share the identity of the movement?
- What values (if any) are you not willing to compromise on?
- What should the role of violence be (if any) in social change movements?
- What is the balance that should be held between providing immediate relief of suffering and working towards systemic change?
We also practiced playing Peacebuilders Camp’s newly minted “Disaster Relief Game” in preparation for teaching the campers to play.
Also in preparation for camp, our group visited immigrant detainees at Stewart Detention Center in Lumpkin, Georgia. We were struck by the deep conversations we had with these men. We met someone who had been detained for over 10 months, someone who had a harrowing trip from Africa to South America to the United States, and someone who had just been granted asylum!