Article

Transgender Campers

Posted on January 23, 2017 by Catherine Ross

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.

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Communications Officer at Canadian Camping Association

Catherine’s lifelong love of camping began in 1953 when she accompanied her mother, the new camp cook, to Camp Tanamakoon in Algonquin Park. She remained at Tan until 1978 as a camper and in several staff roles. After five years as a teacher, in 1979, Catherine and her husband George purchased Camp Mi-A-Kon-Da for girls in Parry Sound, Ontario which they owned for 20 years. Catherine has served on the Board of the Ontario Camps Association, and is Past President of the Society of Camp Directors. She is currently Communications Officer on the Board of the CCA. She is past editor of Camps Canada, published by the CCA, and the OCAasional News, the newsletter of the OCA. She is the author of four publications. Her articles on camping have appeared in numerous magazines.