A summer camp in Shawnigan Lake seeks to make the camp experience more comfortable for everyone by offering a gender inclusive camp week this summer.
Camp Pringle, run by the United Church of Canada on the shores of Shawnigan Lake, decided to turn the week of July 21 to 26 this summer into a gender-inclusive camp week.
Katherine Brittain, a minister at the United Church of Canada and with the camp, said she is excited about being able to host a week where children who are transgender or have a different gender identity or expression can feel welcome.
Brittain said the camp had received inquiries from parents of kids who are not cisgender about whether or not their children would feel comfortable at camp.
“We thought it would be amazing if we had a whole week of a gender inclusive camp,” Brittain said. “Nobody has to worry about being different or singled out, you could just come and be a kid again.”
This is the first time Camp Pringle has hosted a gender inclusive camp. Cabins will be grouped by age and there will be a male-identified and female-identified counsellor in each cabin.
There will be privacy in change rooms and bathrooms for the campers, Brittain said.
Camp staff will also be trained in things like gender neutral language use and will be told to ask questions if there is anything they think they can’t handle.
Brittain will also be at the gender inclusive camp week as a camp parent as will her daughter.
“We’re learning as well,” Brittain said. “Safety, security, feeling safe and being safe are our highest priorities.”
Brittain said she hopes the camp helps normalize different gender identities and also helps children feel welcome and included. She said she wants children to feel part of the same, big group for the week so they can relax and just enjoy being a kid.
Camp Pringle has also offered to allow parents to sign up for a different camp week for free if they are already registered for this one and do not feel comfortable with their child at the gender inclusive camp.
The camp offers activities such as archery, high ropes, canoeing and arts and craft.
“We just want to be the place where people who don’t feel welcome in a lot of different places and a lot of different churches and faith organizations are welcome here,” Brittain said.