Gender, Pronouns, and Politics at Camp Granite Lake
Dear Enrolled & Prospective Camp Granite Lake Families:
The community we create at Camp Granite Lake each summer is a reflection of the larger society we all live in. And, over the last few years, the number of questions about how we approach things like gender identity, transgender campers and counselors, the sharing of pronouns and political discourse have increased dramatically (we use to receive two or three questions a year, now it’s more like two or three a week!).
We have had approaches to gender, pronouns, and sensitive conversations for many years, and feel it’s important to share with all campers, families and staff members how we manage these topics in the camp setting:
Politics & Religion:
Aside from an increased awareness of universal values like kindness, respect and acceptance of others, campers should leave Camp Granite Lake with the same general belief system they arrived with. All viewpoints that respect the humanity of others are welcome. Staff are trained to divert conversations around sensitive issues like politics and religion to more neutral topics, and guide campers towards bringing up those topics with trusted adult figures outside of camp.
We have always provided campers and staff with name tags for their first few days at camp, and have expanded that in recent summers to include preferred pronouns if they would like to add them. Some choose to add them, some don’t. Either way is totally fine and will be respected at camp.
Additionally, a longstanding part of our program are name games, ice breakers, and introductions of campers and staff. During these times campers and staff may share preferred pronouns, or not. We normalize both approaches and let campers know that it’s their choice, and either way is great with us.
Changing Names or Pronouns at Camp:
We are sometimes asked by campers to call them a name and/or pronoun that are different than the ones provided on their camper application.And, at camp, we will acknowledge the name and/or pronoun change during the session.
While parents and caregivers may choose a different approach at home, as a youth serving organization, it’s not within our scope to tell campers what they are not.
Additionally, the best available data shows the importance of acknowledging, validating, and accepting a camper’s chosen name and pronouns, even if the change is temporary. Research, while limited, reflects a 29% decrease in suicidal ideation and 56% decrease in suicidal behavior for youth when their chosen name is used.(Parents.com Article and The Trevor Project Data)
Transgender & Non-Binary Campers and Staff
As a camp that has welcomed trans campers and staff since our opening summer in 2011, we are committed to providing a safe and inclusive place for members of the LGBTQ+ community.
Our longstanding guideline has been to allow campers and staff to live and work in a cabin of the gender with which they most closely identify (our cabins are divided into male and female groups). For staff, this conversation happens during the hiring process, and for campers, it happens during enrollment.
We validate and normalize their choice, and the camper or staff member is under no obligation to share information about their gender identify.
We hope this provides clarity for campers, staff members, and their families. If you have any additional questions, please reach out to us.
Abbie, Tommy, Ellie, Barry
Reviewed November 2023