Where Kids Can Just Be Kids: Summer Camps For Trans* Youth

Childhood can be as magical as it is challenging. Having parents who care enough to walk you through the highs and lows of life, to tend to your feelings, restore your peace of mind, guide your education and plan your health care helps to ease the stress and eustress that kids go through as they’re finding their way in the world.

Kids, just like adults, need to have survival needs met, to interface with a supportive and growing community, and to enjoy plenty of extra time for play, recess, hobbies and making same-age friends who share their interests. (remember scheduled play dates and slumber parties?)

Because people often confuse sexuality with gender, trans* kids might be introduced to ideas, bullying or teasing comments that have nothing at all to do with what they’re interested in or thinking about in terms of their identity. They won’t even understand the words or concepts in grown-up ways, which is all the more hurtful and confusing.

These reasons among many make summer camp that’s not only trans* inclusive but just for trans* kids a very pronounced need. Kids in school, in both public and private shared spaces where children gather, may be in relatively secure environments, but much of their time might be unsupervised, or not monitored closely. Multiply that by the weeks and months packed into the summertime, and now you’re dealing with formative experiences that have the potential to imprint themselves on children’s innocent  little hearts and minds. So why not set them up to be joyful experience?

Why not set them up for having…just plain fun?

There are many parents and supportive organizations who’ve taken it upon themselves to create trans* inclusive and/or trans* specific spaces where kids can just be kids. Here are a few suggestions below.

Summer Camps for Trans* Youth

Camp Aranu’tiq A week-long, overnight summer camp for transgender and gender-variant youth ages 8 – 15, with locations in New England and California. Also, Aranu’tiq Family Camp is a long weekend event in autumn for the whole family.  http://www.camparanutiq.org

Trans Youth Equality Foundation Youth Retreats Twice a year, TYEF organizes transgender youth

retreats, an opportunity to get away for a little while and enjoy activities like swimming, hiking, boating and arts and crafts. The difference between summer camp and TYEF retreats is that all of the youth who attend TYEF retreats are transgender. http://www.transyouthequality.org/youth_retreats.html

NYC LGBT Center  Y.E.S. Program Summer Community Camp The Y.E.S. Summer Community Camp program is a week-long residential camp designed to empower lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender young people with the support, knowledge and skills they need to take charge of their own health and well-being.  http://www.gaycenter.org/youth/summercamp

Camp You Are You Camp You Are You  is a four-day camp experience for gender fluid boys and their families. The name and location is private, however Slate.com wrote a piece about it recently, and you can contact Lindsay Morris, who is in touch with the organization, at LindsayMorris.viewbook.com and find out more about the camp at this link:

http://www.slate.com/blogs/behold/2013/07/15/_you_are_you_looks_at_a_gender_nonconforming_camp_for_boys_photos.html

You can find many more trans* inclusive summer camps at Dreams of Hope here: http://www.dreamsofhope.org/page/summer-camps

Do you think trans* only summer school and camps shelter kids too much, or are they absolutely necessary?

One thought on “Where Kids Can Just Be Kids: Summer Camps For Trans* Youth

  • September 23, 2015 at 10:35 am
    Permalink

    The needs of children are ever changing, especially as they get older but that doesn’t change the need for equality among children. It is so important for transgender children to also receive that secure place to JUST. HAVE. FUN. What’s more about a summer camp meeting the needs of these children? It focuses on positive youth development AND it is supervised. Children are less likely to be bullied at camp and that is exactly what this population of youth need—they need to be able to experience life’s moments without always having to defend and/or protect themselves. Camping can most definitely include transgender children and I think these organizations that host camping programs for these children are a special gift to be highly valued.

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *