Since 1939, Wyoming-based Teton Valley Ranch Camp (TVRC) has provided traditional Western adventure camp experiences to campers 11 to 16 years old.
Not surprisingly, TVRC has a trove of long-standing traditions that the staff and generations of campers hold dear. “Some of our families have been coming to TVRC for three and four generations,” said Will Northrop, TVRC Board President. “And as social norms changed, we needed to stay relevant and change along with them but to do so without letting go of the core of who we are and what we believe in.”
TVRC decided to look anew at the camp’s vision, mission and values, focusing on creating a more unbiased, just and inclusive ethos for all campers. It was this inflection point that launched the TVRC and Strelo Group partnership.
“As social norms changed, we needed to stay relevant and change along with them but to do so without letting go of the core of who we are and what we believe in.”
Board President, TVRC
Power of shared principles
Strelo designed and facilitated a series of workshops for the TVRC Board and Leadership Team. Their two primary goals were to develop a shared and deepened understanding of why the camp’s diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) transformation was needed and to create a shared vision for how to integrate DEI into TVRC’s culture and practices.
Throughout the workshop series, Strelo helped TVRC see how to align their agreed organizational change goals to what they wanted to instill in their campers as future leaders. “The Strelo team helped us ‘connect the dots’ and, in the process, helped us develop a more systematic DEI approach to ensure the camp would stay relevant and viable in a rapidly changing market,” said Northrop.
As they considered their long-term strategy, the workshop participants also examined — and questioned—long-standing practices, protocols, and even the very language they were using. “For example, we gave ourselves permission to look anew at some of the ‘Western tradition’ stories we tell as part of the camper experience,” said Northrop. “Though our intentions were best-spirited, we could see the potential for being unknowingly divisive. We knew we could do better. We were determined to build the best version of TVRC, and we knew this was essential for our future.”
“We were having new kinds of conversations, some that were uncomfortable. But as we moved through the process, we got to a more deep and honest understanding of what we were committing to in terms of diversity and inclusion.”
Camp Director, TVRC
Changing for their future
With Strelo’s guidance, the TVRC leaders dug deep into what it meant to embed a more inclusive approach to camp life. The work was challenging and often difficult. “This was new ground for us,” said Jim Ligori, TVRC Camp Director. “We were having new kinds of conversations, some that were uncomfortable. But as we moved through the process, we got to a more deep and honest understanding of what we were committing to in terms of diversity and inclusion.”
Northrop recalls the moment when the Board and Leadership Team realized this would be a thoughtful and protracted journey, not a one-and-done campaign. “We knew that if we worked together with a sense of priority, intentionality and certainty, TVRC would be an even better place.”
About Teton Valley Ranch Camp
Teton Valley Ranch Camp was established in 1939 to provide unique, challenging, and fun western and backcountry experiences to campers 11 to 16 years old. Their mission is to instill passion and respect for the outdoors while building self-confidence, skills, and lasting friendships. In 2021, TVRC served more than 300 students in the Jackson Hole and Yellowstone area.