New, First-of-its-Kind Study: Creating Gender-Affirming Spaces at Summer Camp

Authored by Hannah Howard (she/her), Camp Fire National Evaluation Manager, and author of “Space for Identity Exploration: Through the Lens of Gender”

Our values are our North Star. They guide our strategic vision and our day-to-day work. We’ve been a values-led organization since 1910, and it’s what has allowed us to survive for 114 years and it’s what will help us continue to meet the current moment.

On our journey to inclusion, which includes a commitment to expanding spaces for young people to “simply be”, we sought to understand how the intentionality in which we create programs impacted participants. We asked the question,  

“What impact (if any) do gender-inclusive and gender-affirming measures have on young people, their caregivers, and their camp experience?” 

This question led to a year-long study at two of our camps, which engaged transgender and non-binary youth and their caregivers following their summer camp experience.  The result is this report, a product of the vulnerability and honesty the participants were willing to share with us. We are honored to share with you and the world today: the first-of-its-kind report around the impact of both physical spaces and psychological conditions that allow youth “to just be,” with an emphasis on identity and gender-affirming practices for transgender and non-binary young people.

Pages from the re[ort

We believe all young people deserve to belong and access opportunities to thrive, so we intentionally craft our Camp Fire programs and spaces in ways that make this possible. Inclusion, belonging, and thriving don’t just happen by accident – it takes a lot of thoughtfulness, attention, and work.

The Othering and Belonging Institute website says, “The concept of belonging describes more than a feeling of inclusion or welcome. Its full power is as a strategic framework for addressing ongoing structural and systemic othering, made visible, for example, in the wide disparities in outcomes found across a variety of sectors and identity groups.”

Camp Fire isn’t just implementing gender-affirming practices, we’re expanding opportunities for young people to exist in their fullness through any means necessary – looking at and updating our policies, practices, language, operations, and structures.

We believe this report is just the tip of the iceberg. Our goal and hope is to scale the research in the years to come and continue to learn and grow, while always centering youth voice. So Camp Fire can continue to best serve our incredible transgender and non-binary youth. 

Download the full report below.

Download the full report below.

Space for Identity Exploration: Through the Lens of Gender © 2024 by Camp Fire, is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International 

January 22, 2024

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