LGBTQIA+ Inclusion at Summer Camp | West Suburban YMCA

Thoughtful Inclusion at Camp

Katie Sopcik

Nov 28, 2022

A long-time member, camper, and now counselor at Camp Frank A. Day shares their point of view from Summer 2022.

“During staff orientation I helped facilitate a training on LGBTQIA+ inclusion at summer camp. With nearly 70 staff packed in the dining hall, box fans barely bringing the temperature down, I worried whether the message would get through.  Most of the international staff (who were the majority of our staff) shared that this was new to them. I was blown away by their thoughtfulness and sustained focus as we discussed how to affirm queer and trans youth and why it's important.  It proved essential, as we had about 20 nonbinary and/or trans-identifying campers and staff this summer, and many more who identified as LGB or elsewhere under the umbrella.  I witnessed staff affirming campers' names and pronouns without missing a beat and campers expressing themselves with comfort and pride. I was touched to hear that a trans camper, who had a hard shell up the first few days, soon shared that they had ‘never felt so respected before.’  It was because of the training that our staff were prepared to meet these young people with skillful care and signal to them that camp is a place where they can be seen and loved for exactly who they are.  When LGBTQIA+ youth don't have to spend their energy scanning for threats or rejection, they are freer to connect and share their gifts with the world.  Camp, as we know, is the perfect place to share your gifts and grow your confidence.”