Gender Diversity and Inclusion at Camp Akita



Camp Akita values and celebrates all campers, including those who are members of the LGBTQ+ community. Camp Akita has welcomed campers and staff who are part of the lesbian, gay, and bi communities for many years. Camp Akita has also welcomed trans and nonbinary campers, but we feel we can do a better job. Our hope is that by updating and sharing our policies, Camp Akita can become more inclusive, accepting, and affirming of trans and gender-diverse young people.

We recognize that trans youth often face stressful, unwelcoming, and even hostile environments in their daily lives. We are sad to know that rates of depression, anxiety, and suicide are much higher among this group. Camp Akita’s core values of community, authenticity, compassion, and acceptance extend to all campers, and “all” includes those who are trans or gender-diverse.

We want all to be aware of our updated Summer 2022 policies regarding gender diversity.

  • Housing
  • Changing and Bathrooms
  • Gender Expression
  • Names and Pronouns
  • Counselors and Staff
  • Looking Ahead to 2023: All Gender Cabin Option
  • Why offer these accommodations?
  • Will I be notified if a trans camper is in my child's cabin?
  • Will I be notified if a trans Counselor is in my child's cabin?
  • What kind of training will staff receive?
  • Will the inclusion of trans or gender diverse campers take away from my camper’s cabin experience?
  • Will campers and Counselors discuss gender identity at camp?
  • Do other camps have policies like these?
  • I'm unfamiliar with some of these terms. Where can I learn more?


  • Housing
    • Trans and gender-diverse campers are welcome in any cabin. While we will continue to refer to the “girls side” and “boys side,” both sides are inclusive of trans and nonbinary campers. Specifically...
      • The girls side welcomes cisgender girls (assigned female at birth and identify as female), trans girls (assigned male at birth and identify as female), trans boys (assigned female at birth and identify as male), and nonbinary campers (assigned either male or female at birth and identify as neither or both male and female).
      • The boys side welcomes cisgender boys (assigned male at birth and identify as male), trans girls (assigned male at birth and identify as female), trans boys (assigned female at birth and identify as male), and nonbinary campers (assigned either male or female at birth and identify as neither or both male and female).
      • Prior to arrival at camp, campers can indicate which side of the hill feels best for them. If they want to switch cabins after arriving at camp, Camp Directors will help make new arrangements according to which cabin serves them best. Depending upon a camper’s comfort level, parents will not always be notified if their camper switches cabins.
      • We recognize that the gender binary is not for everyone. Starting Summer 2023, we plan to include an all-gender cabin option (see below for details). In the meantime, we welcome conversations with nonbinary or gender-diverse campers to help choose which side of the hill might feel most comfortable for Summer 2022.
      • In keeping with our prior policies, families will not be notified of the names, medical histories, or any other personal information about their child’s cabin mates before, during, or after their session.

      Back

      Changing and Bathrooms
      • All cabins now have a changing room with a lockable door similar to a bathroom stall. All campers and Counselors will be encouraged to use a private changing space and are required to use it during full changes. Public nudity will not be permitted in any cabin.
      • Bathrooms include toilets with lockable stall doors.
      • Showers now have lockable stall doors in place of shower curtains.
      • All-gender restrooms are available in the Lodge and Dining Hall.

      Back

      Gender Expression

      Camp Akita believes there is no “right way” to be a girl or boy and encourages all campers to be themselves regardless of cabin assignment. Campers may wear whatever makes them comfortable; no campers will be expected to dress “like a girl” or “like a boy.” There remains no dress code at Camp Akita, except that clothing may not include references to drugs, alcohol, sex, profanity, or other slogans or images that may be threatening or offensive to others.

      Back

      Names and Pronouns

      Camp Akita Staff will respect and use the names and pronouns that correspond with how campers introduce themselves. If a camper chooses to use a different name or pronouns than those listed on their registration form, Counselors will use the name and pronouns campers use for themselves..

      Back

      Counselors and Staff 

      Camp Akita Counselors are assigned to cabins based on gender identity—and always have been. Camp Akita has never required Counselors (or campers) to disclose any details of their gender identity or transitions, and we do not plan to create such a policy. All Staff undergo background checks and professional training, including sessions on child sexual abuse prevention (Darkness to Light), suicide prevention training, and how to care for campers of all gender identities. 

      Back

      Looking Ahead to 2023: All-Gender Cabin Option 

      In 2023, we plan to include an all-gender cabin option. This is a good option for campers who prefer to bunk with children of other genders, campers who identify as non-binary, campers who want to bunk with a friend who is non-binary, or campers who feel this is the best fit for any reason. Fraternal twins who want to bunk together might enjoy living in an all-gender cabin. Trans campers are welcome in all bunks including the all-gender cabin. The all-gender cabin will be an “opt-in” experience and only those who select this option will be assigned to the cabin.  

      Back

      Why offer these accommodations? 

      Camp Akita believes camp is for everyone! We welcome, affirm, and support campers of all gender identities and expressions, and have for many years. Providing inclusive housing, changing areas, and restrooms allows us to put our beliefs into action and live out our core values, which include authenticity and acceptance. Learn more in our Statement of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. 

      Back

      Will I be notified if a trans camper is in my child’s cabin? 

      No. In keeping with our prior policies, families will not be notified of the names, medical histories, or any other personal information about their child’s cabin mates before, during, or after their session.  

      Back

      Will I be notified if a trans Counselor is in my child’s cabin? 

      No. In keeping with our prior policies, families will not be notified of the names, medical histories, or any other personal information about their child’s Counselors before, during, or after their session.  

      Back

      What kind of training will staff receive? 

      All Counselors will be trained on how to create a safe and welcoming space for campers of all genders in every cabin. All Staff undergo background checks and professional training, including sessions on child sexual abuse prevention (Darkness to Light), suicide prevention training, and how to care for campers of all gender identities.

      Back

      Will the inclusion of trans or gender diverse campers take away from my camper’s cabin experience? 

      Not at all! Creating a tight-knit community within each cabin remains the cornerstone of the Camp Akita experience. We will continue to train Counselors that there are many ways to identify and express ourselves, and all identities and self-expressions will be accepted and celebrated in all cabins—as they always have been at Camp Akita.  

      Back

      Will campers and Counselors discuss gender identity at camp? 

      Maybe! It’s difficult to predict what topics of conversation will arise as campers and Counselors share about their lives and faith. We do not have any kind of gender identity curriculum, but if gender identity comes up in conversation, we do not feel it is off limits, just as race, ethnicity, religion, and other topics are not off limits when discussed with respect and authenticity. Counselors receive training on how to lead age-appropriate conversations, prevent and respond to bullying, and keep the focus of storytelling on campers, not Counselors. 

      Back

      Do other camps have policies like these? 

      Yes! Camp Akita is accredited by the American Camp Association, a national organization that sets standards for health, safety, and program quality for over 2,400 camps across the nation. The American Camp Association provides guidance for working with Trans Campers. Camp Akita has also worked with Transplaining, a professional consultant for organizations (including summer camps) looking to make safer and more inclusive spaces for trans and non-gender conforming youth. 

      Back

      I'm unfamiliar with some of these terms. Where can I learn more? 

      National Center of Transgender Equity defines terms like Transgender and Non-Binary

      The American Camp Association provides guidance for Serving the Needs of Trans Campers.

      Transgender Children & Youth: Understanding the Basics.

      .The Trevor Project: Gender Identity.

      Back