In the past six years, on three separate occasions, Ted Lockie (Manager, Camp and Youth Programs, Western Canada, Canadian Diabetes Association) received a request from parents asking him if he would register a transgender camper. Ted shares his experience.
When Lockie was asked to register a transgender camper, he did not hesitate. Ted simply asked the parent to identify whether their child chose to live in a female or a male cabin. In all three cases, a female was transitioning to a male. Ted was confident that the child would not behave in any way to make the cabin mates uncomfortable as that would be difficult for themselves as well. In most cases, the other campers were unaware of the gender change. Only the camper’s counsellor and the medical staff were informed.
In Ted’s experience, no problems arose and he received no negative feedback from other parents. He states, “It is not a problem; don’t make it a problem.” Ted is a millennial and completely comfortable with the situation. He speculates that older camp directors may be less at ease because they have had less experience with transgender youth. He considers that the issue may be more of a challenge for those with strong religious beliefs that do not accept gender change.
Ted believes that because camp is an inclusive, accepting, supportive environment, it is a great place for transgender youth to learn how to navigate society. They become accustomed to using a different washroom, have the opportunity to play on a different sports team or even start talking about the changes that they are experiencing.
During World War II, Mary Edgar, Founding Director of Glen Bernard Camp for girls, organized a group of alumnae to offer a camp respite to girls from the UK to escape bombs and horrible air raids. The camp was called Shangri-La. To celebrate their 95th season in the spirit of May Edgar, the camp decided to invite twenty-four Syrian girls to enjoy a Canadian camping experience.
Throughout the winter of 2015/16, Director Joc Palm and Associate Director Kim Graydon began their research and preparations to launch GBC for Syria. After meeting with various organizations and agencies, they began to receive applications from several Syrian families new to Canada. With an album of camp photographs showing the site and the activities, they visited each of the applicants’ families across the province with one or more of their sponsors and when necessary with the assistance of a translator. They spent hours with each family, answering questions and building trust.
One incident was memorable. Kim had answered “no” to one girl’s question, “Is there electric?” because at GBC the girls do not have hydro in their cabins. All of a sudden, the two sisters looked at one another, began speaking quickly to their father in Arabic and rolling their eyes. The father then spoke to them somewhat sternly. When Joc and Kim asked the translator what he had said to his daughters, he replied, “He told them if they could survive a year and a half in a refugee camp in Jordan, they could survive a week at Glen Bernard without electricity!” Amused, Joc reassured the girls that yes, there was hydro to the main buildings around camp just not in the sleeping cabins.
Giving consideration to the language barrier, GBC decided it was not necessary to have translators at camp. Campers learn by seeing and doing. They knew that the Syrian campers with better English could help the girls with little English.
Swimming ability was a barrier. Of the twenty-six girls, only two could swim. Fortunately, the camp waterfront has a sandy beach and a long stretch of shallow water. The girls were advised that if they were concerned, all they had to do was stand up. The waterfront staff discussed how to help the newcomers feel safe. In some cases, everyone wore lifejackets to play in the water.
The Syrian campers lived for their week’s stay with GBC campers in various cabins during all sessions. The veteran campers discovered that the new campers were friendly and enjoyed camp as much as they did. However, one afternoon they were reminded that these girls had experiences foreign to them During a thunder storm, one Syrian camper remarked, “The thunder sounds just like bombs exploding.” Nevertheless, nobody dwelt on this graphic comparison, and the girls continued happily with their indoor play.
The experience was a great success for both the newcomers and GBC campers. It is the camp’s intention with support from alumnae to invite all the Syrian girls to return if they choose for the length of time appropriate to their age and also to bring a friend.
Kudos to GBC and the many camps across Canada that welcomed Syrian newcomers to their camps last summer!
In 2016, 23 camps with food budgets ranging from $10,000 to $323,000, raised almost $9,000 in the CCA Foodbuy Program.
Half of this money goes to help fund CCA projects such as marketing and lobbying; half goes to help fund provincial projects; and in this Win, Win, Win scenario, the 23 camps both save money and receive rebates.
If your camp, whether big or small, joins the Foodbuy program, your camp, your provincial association and your national association all benefit.
Email firstname.lastname@example.org today and discover out how Foodbuy can serve and benefit you.
Canada Summer Jobs provides funding to help employers create summer job opportunities for students. It is designed to focus on local priorities, while helping both students and their communities.
Canada Summer Jobs:
Canada Summer Jobs provides funding to not-for-profit organizations, public-sector employers and small businesses with 50 or fewer employees to create summer job opportunities for young people aged 15 to 30 years who are full-time students intending to return to their studies in the next school year.
By way of five national priorities, CSJ also supports the following:
The deadline to apply is January 20, 2017.
The International Camping Congress is calling for international presenters for the upcoming event.
The ICC (hosted in association with the International Camping Fellowship) is being held in Sochi, Russia from October 15 – 19, 2017.
The deadline for proposals is January 31, 2017. More information is available on the ICF website.