Serving Transgender, Gender Non-Conforming, Non-Binary, Genderqueer, Gender Expansive Campers
The Camp Alonim community includes campers and staff of all sexual orientations and gender identities. With the recognition that gender identity and sexual orientation are distinct, Camp Alonim seeks to simultaneously create a safe and welcoming environment for LGBTQ+ identifying campers, staff, and families. Our goal is to support every individual’s well-being, which includes bunking campers and staff according to gender identity, avoiding heteronormative assumptions in our language and programming, and much more. We recognize that this may represent a learning opportunity for some of our families, and we are happy to provide additional information and resources.
Gender Expression, Names, & Pronouns
- At all Camp Alonim programs, events and locations, all campers have the right and opportunity to express their gender identity in a way that feels authentic to them.
- All campers have the right to be addressed by names and pronouns that affirm their identity and expression, regardless of whether a camper has legally changed their name or gender marker (for example on an identification card or birth certificate).
- If a camper has previously been known at Camp Alonim by a different name or pronouns, that camper has the right to seek support from the Camp Alonim leadership to help them introduce their new name/pronouns.
Privacy & Confidentiality
- Confidentiality: Camp ensures that all personally identifiable and medical information relating to an individual’s gender identity shall be kept confidential in accordance with applicable state, local, and federal privacy laws. Information can be viewed only by the Directors, Health Center Staff, Head Counselors, Community Care Specialist (LCSW), and Parent Liaisons (“Camp Moms” and “Camp Dads”). It will only be shared with your child’s counselors or other staff members to the extent deemed necessary for your child’s care or well-being
- Not outing a community member: All representatives of Alonim, both paid and volunteer, shall not disclose any information that may reveal a camper’s gender identity and/or transition status to others, including other parents or guardians and other camp staff, unless legally required to do so, or unless the camper has authorized such disclosure.
- Talking with campers’ parents/guardians: The fact that a camper chooses to use a different name, identify with a different gender at camp, or to disclose their gender identity to staff or other campers does not authorize Camp Alonim staff to disclose a camper’s personally identifiable information to the camper’s parent/guardian. When contacting the parent or guardian of a camper, Alonim staff should use the camper’s legal name and the pronoun corresponding to the camper’s gender assigned at birth unless the camper, parent, or guardian has specified otherwise.
Access to Gendered Facilities
- Campers will be bunked according to their gender identity as provided by their parent or adult guardian and/or in conversation with the camper’s parent/guardian. In regards to gender non-conforming children, Camp Alonim staff will speak with the parent/guardian to find the best fit within our current bunking model. Please see our Bunk Policies Section here.
- Any community member who is uncomfortable using a shared gender-specific facility (such as bathrooms, cabins, changing rooms), regardless of the reason, will be provided with a safe alternative to the best of Camp Alonim’s ability. Camp Alonim has single-occupancy all-gender bathrooms for use.
- Under no circumstances may a person be required to use separate facilities because they are transgender or gender non-conforming.
Supporting Campers Should They Come Out at Camp
Should a camper decide to come out at Camp As Transgender, Gender Non-Conforming, Genderqueer, A-Gender, Gender-expansive, Gender Fluid and/or Non-Binary we will support them in that process.
- It is the camper’s decision whether to share their gender identity with their bunk, age division, or other Camp community members. Campers will be supported in whatever decision they make by counselors, head counselors, directors, camp parent liaisons, the community care specialist, and other staff as necessary.
- Campers should be supported in managing the transition from Camp to home. Either a counselor, head counselor, director, or community care specialist should facilitate a conversation with the child including: Do your parents/family know about this? Do you want them to? How can we support you?
- Alonim Staff will only disclose a camper’s decision to come out at camp to the camper’s parent/family if the camper directly expresses permission to do so.
Tzelem Discussion Group Program
Each summer, we look for new, improved, and more innovative ways to support our campers while they are at Alonim. We are excited to announce Tzelem, a new optional program at Alonim for entering 8th through 11th graders.
What is Tzelem?
Core to the Alonim experience is camp being a place where all campers are accepted, celebrated, and supported for who they are. Therefore, we are partnering with Moving Traditions to create an optional activity using their Tzelem (from the Jewish principle of B’tzelem Elohim – that all human beings are created in the image of God) curriculum to provide safe and supportive gathering space during free times at camp for transgender and non-binary campers entering 8th through 11th grades.
Tzelem will allow campers to build connections through guided discussions with other transgender and non-binary campers and to explore gender through a Jewish lens.
Why creating the Tzelem group is critical to camper care:
For many years, we have bunked by gender identity at Alonim. However, bunking by gender identity forces non-binary and genderqueer campers into a binary system that does not represent them well. We have seen this lead to increased mental health challenges while they attend camp in the summer. Through Tzelem, we hope to provide an affirming space for trans and non-binary campers. Data on teens nationwide indicates that 1 in 4 LGBTQ+ teens identify as non-binary, and an additional 20% are not sure or are questioning their gender identity. We also know from a mental health perspective that trans and non-binary youth are at heightened risk for depression and suicide—and that being in spaces and having relationships where they are supported and affirmed for who they are is one of the most powerful factors contributing to better mental health outcomes.
When will the Tzelem group meet?
Trans, non-binary, and gender non-conforming campers will have the opportunity to opt in to participating in our Tzelem group, which will meet 5-6 times during the camp session. Our Tzelem group will meet during free choice times at camp so participants are not missing out on other camp activities in order to take part in this meaningful and impactful program. Our Tzelem group leader will be specially trained by Moving Traditions to support the trans and non-binary participants in Tzelem and lead them in guided conversation on: Building Community; Life Transitions; Healthy Relationships; Beauty Ideals, Bodies, and Self-Expression; Self-Compassion; and Mental Health.
How can I help my camper participate in Tzelem at camp?
We encourage families who think their campers (entering 8th — 11th grades) may be interested in participating in the Tzelem program to discuss the opportunity with their campers and fill out this form to indicate interest so we can best prepare for the program this summer. Campers will also be able to choose to participate in the program at the beginning of their time at camp, so filling out the form is not required but helpful to our planning process.
Creating this important safe and supportive space is critical to our ability to care for the mental and emotional health of all our campers. Partnering with Moving Traditions to create this guided and structured meeting space at camp will further our commitment to meeting the individual needs of all of our campers. As always, please feel free to reach out to us in the camp office if you have any questions about this upcoming summer.
Looking for more information on gender diversity? Click here to access a list of articles, books, and other resources.