Boy, girl, and all-gender cabin options
Throughout the camping community, camps have been expanding cabin choices to affirm all campers’ gender identities. After a positive response to our pilot in 2022 and using best practices from other successful camps, we’re proud to offer the option again in 2023 for campers ages 10+ to select the cabin of their preference: girl, boy, or all-gender cabin.
As with anything new, we know you may have questions; we’ve compiled answers and additional information below.
There are many reasons for this offering:
- First and foremost, we’re proud to be a camp that welcomes and affirms campers across all gender identities. Providing an inclusive, all-gender cabin option is important to creating a welcoming and affirming experience, particularly for campers who identify beyond the gender binary of boy or girl.
- According to Camp Fire National’s survey of summer camps in Minnesota and across the country, campers and their families desire this additional option.
- Buddy requests between campers of different genders and campers who simply want a multi-gender cabin experience can now be accommodated.
- Non-binary campers now have an additional cabin choice, rather than selecting between two binary options. See our FAQ for more resources on gender terms.
All-gender cabins are an addition to our cabin options and we will continue to provide girl and boy cabins.
You and your camper choose your preferred cabin during registration; you may select one preference or a first and second choice.
Camp is pure magic to thousands of young people every year. Campers unplug to reconnect with nature, each other, and themselves. Our staff encourage campers to stretch their imaginations, challenge their fears, try new things, and cheer on fellow campers along the way. By affirming and celebrating each of our camper’s unique personalities and identities, each camper can confidently bring their authentic self to share in the magic of camp. Thank you for being a part of creating that magic!
Why offer this option?
Camp Fire Minnesota aims to listen to the youth we serve. In 2019, Camp Fire National interviewed campers all over the country, including those from Minnesota, about what would make camp more welcoming to them. All-gender cabins were a top priority shared by youth. We know that young people desire this option, and that providing this option fits our mission of finding one’s spark in the outdoors accessible to all. In 2021, the Trevor Project National Survey found that youth who had their name, pronouns, and identity respected lowered the likelihood of those youth attempting suicide, often cutting that likelihood by half. Research shows that half or more youth identify with the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Two-Spirit (LGBTQ2S+) community and that 25% of youth are non-binary. We are proud to be a space where every young person can be themselves and find respect, community, and joy.
Participation and How to Register
Who can stay in all-gender cabins?
Any camper age 10 and older may opt-in to all-gender cabins. Campers who’d like to buddy with a friend or sibling of a different gender, campers who are non-binary, and campers who would prefer a mixed gender cabin or counselor experience for any reason will all find this is a great option for them. Ultimately, we’d love for lots of campers who are interested and comfortable to select this option – the more interest we get, the better chance of being able to honor all-gender cabin preferences! Find out more about registration here.
How will you determine which cabin my camper stays in?
Parents/guardians will select the cabin option with their camper during registration. All-gender cabins are available for campers 10 and older. We encourage parents to ask their camper which cabin option they prefer. Keep in mind, your camper can select either only one choice or their first preferred option and second preferred option (i.e. first choice all-gender and second choice girls). If a camper has only one choice, we will honor that choice.
Is there a chance that my camper could be housed in an all-gender cabin even if they don’t want to be?
No. This is an opt-in program.
If we select the all-gender cabin option, what is that camp experience like for my camper?
Your camper’s experience is the same as any other cabin group! The only difference is that all-gender cabins are staffed by counselors who have opted in to work with all-gender cabins and who represent a mix of genders (men, women, and non-binary folks). Cabins are simply a “home base” at camp, and all campers will participate in the same camp activities, including some based on individual camper choice. You can find out more about the camp experience here.
My camper is transgender. Do they have to select the all-gender cabin?
We want every young person to select the cabin option that is best for them, and we follow best practices outlined by the American Camp Association. Trans campers are welcome to select the boys, girls, or all-gender cabin based on their preference and gender.
Safety and Privacy
How do you address bathroom use for campers in the all-gender cabins?
All campers have multiple bathroom options. The all-gender cabins will have access to our new all-gender bathrooms and showers (which feature full doors that lock), as well as the boys’ and girls’ bathroom and shower facilities. Expectations in these spaces are reviewed at the start of camp, and they are supervised by staff — one right inside the door of the restroom and another staff outside of it. Campers are always within sight and sound of counselors and always move throughout camp with at least two other people.
How will you handle privacy and changing clothes in all-gender cabins?
All of our campers, including those staying in boy and girl cabins, will use private changing rooms. These rooms could be restrooms, shower stalls, or our new changing stations which are locked stalls. Counselors always supervise these areas if campers are using them. Campers do not change in public spaces, including their cabins with other campers.
Who will be the counselors?
In our staff application and interview, we give staff the opportunity to select which cabins they would be comfortable supervising. All staff receive training on promoting positive cabin environments, following and enforcing privacy rules (including no public changing and no sharing bunks), and the gender spectrum. Counselors are then placed in cabins based on what staff and leadership think would provide the best possible experience for campers. There are always at least two staff members in each cabin, and they sleep in bunks near entrances and exits to cabins.
Terms and Resources
What is the difference between gender and sexuality?
A person’s sexuality is who they are attracted to and their gender is who they are. Some examples of gender identities include woman, man, non-binary, or two-spirit (which is specific to Indigenous communities). Some examples of sexualities include lesbian, gay, straight, or bisexual. Both gender and sexuality are diverse experiences that vary depending on the person. Research shows that half or more youth identify with the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Two-Spirit (LGBTQ2S+) community and that 25% of youth are non-binary. We follow best practices and train our staff to accept and celebrate these identities! We’re excited to offer all-gender cabins in part to support campers outside the gender binary.
I’m not familiar with the non-binary gender identity. Can you tell me more about this?
According to the National Center of Transgender Equality: “Some people don’t neatly fit into the categories of ‘man’ or ‘woman,’ or ‘male’ or ‘female.’ For example, some people have a gender that blends elements of being a man or a woman, or a gender that is different than either male or female. Some people don’t identify with any gender. Some people’s gender changes over time. People whose gender is not male or female use many different terms to describe themselves, with non-binary being one of the most common.” Non-binary campers may find that all-gender cabins are a more comfortable option than girl or boy cabins.
Does camp offer programming specifically around gender and sexuality?
We do not offer programs around gender and sexuality. The focus of our program is being outside in nature, building community, and supporting each camper as they discover their spark. Our staff are trained how to have age-appropriate and positive conversations without making judgments when these questions or topics arise, including how to refocus everyone’s attention toward camp.