Dear YMCA of the Pines Community,

We hope this message finds you well and enjoying the anticipation of the upcoming summer season! As we prepare for another enriching and exciting experience, we would like to share some important changes that have been carefully considered and discussed by our Justice, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (JEDI) committee, which includes members of our Board, Staff, and Alum.

Over the years, our camp has embraced and celebrated a variety of cultural traditions, including elements inspired by Indigenous Peoples and their many rich varied cultures. We understand and appreciate the passion and connection many campers and families have felt towards these traditions, and we are truly grateful for the community that has been built around these shared experiences.

As our camp program has evolved to incorporate the Hero’s Journey and a camper’s path to self-actualization into their truest and best self, the camps have gradually phased out the incorporation of Indigenous Peoples’ traditions and artifacts within our program. This decision was not made lightly, and we want to express our utmost respect for those who have cherished these aspects of our camp culture. It was done after great deliberation and education, including conversations with Elders from one of the largest local tribes, the Lenni Lenape. It is also not a wholesale erasing of our history or traditions. Certain elements will remain, others will be relegated to places on camp where we can explain their historical context.

To complete this transition, the Blue and Green Feather Plaques in the Ockanickon and Matollionequay dining halls, respectively, have been taken down and safely stored. Banners will be hung in both dining halls to display the names of the campers who earned Blue and Green Feathers in the past.

The plaques will be on display during the spring Family Camp Weekend over Memorial Day Weekend to allow our cherished alumni to return to camp and take photographs of or with any plaques to which they have a connection. More information will be forthcoming on how folks can take photos with the plaques in the months to come.

These plaques will remain at the Pines’ facility in perpetuity, and will be available for alum to view. We hope to eventually construct a small museum onsite where they will be housed.

Further, the camp names will not be changing, but the village names in our programs will be changed to better align with our current program operations and thematic framework. Our camp staff and JEDI committee have been working hard to develop new names, and have been workshopping options with current and former staff, campers, and alumni.

The names will be posted in our blog on our website in the coming month. In the meantime, feel free to share your thoughts and ideas for overnight camp with Charlotte Brown, our Executive Director of Overnight Camping, via email to, or with Lynn Passarella, our Senior Director of Lake Stockwell Day Camp, via email to

The primary reason behind this decision is our commitment to fostering an inclusive and respectful environment that is considerate of the diversity within our camp community. We recognize that the use of Indigenous Peoples’ traditions and artifacts, despite our best intentions, does perpetuate stereotypes and cultural appropriation. Our goal is to create an atmosphere that is welcoming to all, irrespective of background, and to ensure that everyone feels respected and valued.

We understand that this change may evoke strong emotions within our community. It’s important to acknowledge the significance that these traditions have held for many of us, and we want to honor the memories and experiences associated with them. We want to assure you that this decision is not meant to diminish the value of those experiences but rather to ensure that our camp continues to evolve in a way that is respectful and inclusive.

As we move forward, we are committed to replacing these traditions with new, enriching, and culturally sensitive activities that align with our values. We are excited about the opportunity to explore and celebrate the rich tapestry of cultures that make up our diverse camp community.

We invite you to share your thoughts with us as we navigate through this transition. Your feedback is invaluable, and we are open to engaging in respectful conversations to address any questions you may have.

Thank you for your understanding and continued support. We are excited about the positive changes that lie ahead, and we look forward to creating memorable and inclusive experiences for all campers.

Warm regards,

Mark Dibble, CEO                             Joe Michiels, Chief Volunteer Officer
YMCA of the Pines                            YMCA of the Pines