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HELPING YOUTH NAVIGATE SOCIAL PRESSURES

GENDER INCLUSIVE SUMMER CAMPS

About Our Gender Inclusive Summer Camps

Farm & Wilderness strives to empower young people to understand and navigate the social pressures they encounter in their lives.

All of the Farm & Wilderness Vermont summer camps are gender inclusive and offer our youth the opportunity to choose a camp environment that best supports their gender identity. Our camp programs include education about gender throughout the summer to provide space for campers to share their thoughts and experiences with gender and become familiar with others experiences. These conversations vary depending on the ages of the participants and may include an understanding of the following terms.

Assigned sex: Biological sex (male, female, intersex) as determined at birth by a medical professional. Gender Identity: An individual’s internal sense of being male, female, or something else. Since gender identity is internal, one’s gender identity is not necessarily visible to others.

Gender Non-Binary: Any gender that is not exclusively male or female, which includes intersex.

Cisgender: People whose gender identity is the same as their sex assigned at birth.

Transgender: People whose gender identity, expression or behavior is different from those typically associated with their assigned sex at birth. Transgender is a broad term and is good for non-transgender people to use.

Farm & Wilderness strives to empower young people to understand and navigate the social pressures they encounter in their lives.

Farm & Wilderness gender inclusive summer camps and communities are not divided by an individual’s sex assigned at birth. Rather, we support each community member to be in housing that most aligns with their gender identity. F&W includes non-binary and transgender staff and youth, and to model inclusivity, we ask that all community members share their gender pronouns. F&W is a place where campers and staff (housed in tents/cabins, etc.) use the full spectrum of gender pronouns (she, he, they, ze) and identify within the full non-binary spectrum of gender.

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What Does Gender Look Like at Our Summer Camps?

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Flying Cloud  & Timberlake
At our Farm & Wilderness summer camps for boys and gender non-binary campers, ages 9-14, we discuss masculinity and the male experience.  In saying masculinity, note that not everyone identifying as masculine identifies as a boy or a man. Community members discuss social pressures and engage in conversations about what it means to be male. At both Flying Cloud and Timberlake summer camps we explore what gender means to individuals and their own identity through respect, simplicity and honoring the land and spirit. The result is a meaningful opportunity to challenge male social constructs and prejudices, such as homophobia, transphobia, and misogyny.

IB  & Red Spruce Grove
At our Farm & Wilderness for girls and gender non-binary campers, ages 9-14, we discuss femininity and the female experience.  In saying femininity, note that not everyone identifying as feminine identifies as a girl or a woman. Community members discuss social pressures and engage in conversations about what it means to be female. At both IB and Red Spruce Grove summer camps we explore what gender means to individuals and their own identity through respect, simplicity and honoring the land and spirit. The result is a meaningful opportunity to challenge female social constructs and prejudices, such as homophobia, transphobia, and misogyny.

Saltash Mountain Camp, Questers, & Tamarack Farm
At each of our mixed-gender summer camps in Vermont, we explore and discuss individual gender identities, while developing empathy, critical thinking, and skills to advocate for others whose gender identities may differ from themselves. The result is a meaningful opportunity to challenge male and female social constructs and prejudices, such as homophobia, transphobia, and misogyny.

Barn Day Camp
At our Vermont Day Camp for mixed gender, ages 4-10, we create a community where children are free from experiences based on the gender binary. We explore gender stereotypes through activities offered. At the Barn Day Camp, gender identity and social justice are woven in throughout the day.

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About Gendered Housing at Farm and Wilderness Camps

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Farm & Wilderness camps are based on the Quaker belief of valuing the Light in everyone and we seek to provide equitable access to programs and the organization. We recognize that conversations about gender identity are new for many participants attending our Vermont summer camps, but very present and important to others. In addition to our mixed gender summer camps, we have camp programs that are gendered. IB and Red Spruce Grove are open to campers and staff identifying as female or gender non-binary (all but cis-male), and Timberlake and Flying Cloud are open to campers and staff identifying as male or gender non-binary (with some cis-female in non-cabin roles at Timberlake).

When it comes to camper and staff housing options, we use the same assignment as at the camp, with some exceptions that are vetted through camp and staff leadership. We spent a few years in a thoughtful process, from the camp to board level, to arrive at this outcome.

What Does This Mean For My Child?

  1. Our housing is very open: from open, three-sided cabins to tents and counselors work with campers to ensure their privacy, sense of safety and space.
  2. We support our cabin staff who identify in various ways to be in working situations and housing that both considers the camper experience as well as the staff. We have practices and expectations in place to protect the staff as well as the campers’ safety and comfort.
  3. Because F&W’s general policies for camps and housing rely more on gender identity rather than sex assigned at birth, it’s possible your child may live in a cabin or tent with campers or counselors of a different sex assigned at birth than your child.
  4. Your child may also live in a cabin or tent with a camper or counselor who uses pronouns and/or identifies differently than the assigned gender of the cabin. In this case, the cabin placement decision was vetted through camp leadership and based on the shared experience of the participant/counselor.
  5. On trips, tent housing mirrors the cabin designation for all. Questers live in mixed gendered spaces when at camp and on the trail.
  6. We ask you to share how your child identifies and the pronouns they use, that staff may meet them where they are, and respect who they are. We know that even within a year’s time, this may change, which is why your detailed and updated registration information is important.
  7. All staff receive comprehensive training in boundaries, so that regardless of how your child’s counselor or their cabinmates identify, staff understand and are held to high standards and will not cross physical and emotional boundaries. Conversations are also held with campers so that they are aware of boundaries related to physical and emotional safety. We educate participants and staff about whom they may go to if they are feeling unsafe, we investigate concerns where appropriate, and take remedial action if necessary. Our camps are accredited by the American Camp Association, which involves periodic inspections of aspects of our programs to promote the safety of program participants.
  8. We continue to explore the need at some camps for non gendered housing spaces. As times and practices evolve, we welcome parent, staff and community input to remain responsive to shifting culture and best practice. If you have any questions about our gender inclusive and gender non-binary summer camps in Vermont, please contact us online or call (802) 422-3761.