The Gender-Expansive Cabin Option

Last summer, we tested out a new gender-expansive cabin option at Friends Camp in addition to our girls’ and boys’ cabins. As a Quaker camp, we affirm our campers and families of all identities—this means we work hard to affirm every camper for who they are when it comes to family background, racial identity, religious beliefs, gender identity, and more. After the successful implementation of this option in 2018, we will be offering a gender-expansive cabin option whenever there is enough interest going forward. We are proud to be a camp for kids of all genders, where campers are free to make platonic friendships with others regardless of gender. At the same time, we value the opportunity for single-gender spaces, especially with our teens. Our young adult counselors are well-positioned to be role models and provide guidance to campers who are developing their identities as young people. To be with others experiencing similar challenges and joys around growing up can be an important factor in youth development. We value our girls’ and boys’ cabins and do not plan to eliminate this element of our program. While we value single-gender experiences in our cabins at camp, some of our campers identify differently than “boy” or “girl.” In order to offer a gender-identity affirming experience for all campers, we will offer a cabin for campers who identify outside the gender binary where they can be with campers and staff members who also identify outside the binary. Some campers might describe their identity as “non-binary,” others might use terms such as “a-gender,” “gender-non-conforming,” or “genderqueer.” An umbrella term used by many engaged in our society’s work for gender justice and inclusion is “gender-expansive.” We hope that by offering a gender-expansive cabin option, campers who are often targeted by misunderstanding [...]