I’m not a “camp kid” myself. I grew up fairly poor, in inner city Philadelphia (West Philadelphia, born and raised) in a rowhome that I shared with my parents, my two brothers, and my grandmother with Alzheimer’s. My father was black, and my mother was the only white woman within 30 city blocks. Everyone knew who we were.

I don’t know if it was because of the close proximity of rowhomes or if it was just the culture of the neighborhood, but it was the kind of place where every adult was basically a spy who couldn’t wait to tell your parents everything you were up to. On Sundays, we had “block cleaning parties” where we all swept our sidewalks and picked up trash while the adults sat on the stoops gossiping, little kids rode their bikes and played Double-Dutch, and our only way of staving off the heat was turning on the fire hydrant and getting our feet wet.

By the time I had kids, my personal situation had changed. I got married and my husband and I bought a single-family home in the suburbs. Every decision about our kid’s activities – soccer, a dance class, school – was a serious discussion of weighing costs and trying to guess ROI. We are still not in a place where we can afford to “just give it a try” or where it doesn’t feel like a waste if we invest in something only to have the kids quit, or not excel.

The neighborhood, and their school, was pretty diverse. So, while their grandmother (who had moved in with us) was not the only white lady around, they still were not familiar with places that were predominantly white, nor were they familiar with people who were truly what we would call rich. Then they received a scholarship to attend a private school, which was mostly rich, and mostly white. There were social cues and trends that my kids had never heard of or experienced and it felt like people were speaking a foreign language. I had NO idea what “Turks and Caicos” was. And I did not know that many families sent their kids to sleep away camps for the entire summer.

Considering a sleep away camp came to us through a series of coincidences and connections that are too long to discuss here. These are not really relevant, but what is relevant is my worry that I would be sending them somewhere where “imposter syndrome” would be their reality. I worried how other kids would receive them; I worried it would change their perceptions on what normal life/families were like; I worried they would come home with new expectations I couldn’t possibly meet.

What I found, however, was the most humble, accepting, and welcoming environment my children could ever have hoped to find. Everything about the environment at camp was designed, intentionally, to be equalizing, and inclusive, and kind. Where every single camper was celebrated for who they are. Mowglis’ motto is “The strength of the wolf is the pack, and the strength of the pack is the wolf.” And it’s true. My son became stronger because of his pack, and Mowglis ensures their families know that Mowglis is stronger because of what each individual camper brings to the community.