Gender Inclusion at Summer L.I.F.E.

  • Summer L.I.F.E.  is committed to providing a safe, inclusive and supportive experience for all campers. We work to ensure that overnight camp is a supportive space for campers of all gender identities and gender expressions.  Here are some of the frequently asked questions about inclusivity at camp. If you have additional questions, please contact camp@vfes.net.

  • What support will my transgender or non-binary child have at camp?
    We aim to be inclusive and respectful of our campers’ genders, including those who identify outside of the gender binary. In our staff trainings, we talk about inclusivity, and ways we can actualize this, by being sensitive to saying things that stereotype by gender.

    What about pronouns?
    Camp staff will respect the pronouns the campers choose for themselves. In the camp registration form, there will be a field to list the camper’s preferred pronoun. Our staff will do their best to use them and model to the campers what it looks like to treat people with respect.

    Will boys and girls sleep in the same cabin?
    Campers are assigned to a cabin consistent with their gender identity.  All cabins at Summer L.I.F.E., are fully supervised with staff present 24 hours a day. 

    What about bathrooms?
    All single occupant bathrooms at camp Kwebeec will be designated as gender inclusive and available for use by any person, regardless of gender. All conventional social norms about respect, modesty, and civility apply.

    Will campers change in front of each other?
    What you may not know is that most kids are pretty modest and have been changing in private or under their covers already at camp for years.  We don’t expect this to present problems at camp and we’ll rely on the respect, modesty, and civility of campers and examples set by staff to rule the day.

  • What is the gender of the staff in the cabin?  
    We will make every effort possible to staff the cabins with representatives of each gender that matches the demographics of the cabin, however, logistics will dictate what is possible. Our existing camper supervision and adult ratios will still be in place.

    Why are you moving to gender-inclusive camp policies?
    We feel it’s an important topic to address.  Being more inclusive and conscientious will make us a stronger and more compassionate community and we have faith that people will respond to our inclusiveness. 

    What about…everything else?
    Summer L.I.F.E. already has well-tested policies and practices that deal with all sorts of behaviors and contingencies that might arise at a summer camp for children and teenagers with special needs. We have a well-trained staff, many of whom are special educators and child development professionals the other 51 weeks of the year. We address things like bullying, inappropriate behaviors, camp romances, social awkwardness, special needs and anything else you can imagine might happen at summer camp as a matter of policy and practice.