ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — This summer nearly 200 students will attend a local summer camp aimed at encouraging diversity and inclusion in order to create more accepting schools and communities.
“Just eliminating all forms of discrimination and teaching them about how to handle different stereotypes that they may come across,” said Chris Jeter, Program Coordinator with Community Tampa Bay.
Community Tampa Bay will once again hold their diversity summer camp called ANYTOWN. It is the 31st year for the camp aimed at high schoolers in Hillsborough, Pinellas and Pasco County. The free five-day, four-night program focuses on inclusion and helping kids to become leaders by engaging in intercultural conversations.
“Just having an interaction with somebody and changing the mindset of what they thought about a person originally and just letting that person in on another person’s world,” said Jeter.
The camp will be held at Eckerd College in St. Petersburg. About 180 students will take part in one of the three sessions from June to July. For Prisha, this will be her second summer in the program.
“I feel, sometimes, in school I don’t get to meet as many people or have these conversations with, like, what’s your life like and how is it different to mine. And, you know, we can still forge friendships even though we have very different points of view towards life and societal issues,” said Prisha Sherdiwala, one of the summer camp attendees.
Campers will play games, engage in activities to explore different identities and talk about how to make our society a more just one. “For me personally, it gave me, like, confidence to be an advocate,” said Marcus Bates, who will be attending the camp for his second summer.
Eric Vaughn is one of the directors of the camp and he says it is important that kids have these conversations now and throughout their lives.
“These young people are going to get out into the real world into careers where they have to interact with people who don’t look like them, who don’t love like them, who don’t act like them. So, at this camp, we teach them how to have these interactions in a safe and comfortable space,” said Vaughn.
The sign-up deadline is May 31. If you are interested in signing your children up for this free summer camp, click here.