Gender Inclusion at Pilgrim Lodge
The heart of Pilgrim Lodge’s mission is to create community that affirms individual sacredness. Our Gender Inclusion practices align with our core value of being “Open and Affirming” which means that all people who strive for a just world are welcome at Pilgrim Lodge and integral to our mission, regardless of faith journey, age, gender identity or expression, ethnicity, skin color, ability, sexual orientation, income, citizenship status, or any other similar labels. The practices that we follow at camp seek to promote each camper’s authentic self-expression in a safe environment.
Pilgrim Lodge affirms and celebrates all campers, including those who are members of the LGBTQIA+ community. Pilgrim Lodge has welcomed campers, staff and volunteers from the LGBTQIA+ community for many years and we strive to continue to be an inclusive, accepting, and affirming space for all people, including gender diverse youth.
We understand that gender diverse people often face stressful, unwelcoming, and even hostile environments in their day-to-day lives and recognize that rates of depression, anxiety, and suicide are much higher among this group of youth. At Pilgrim Lodge, by living our core values and mission, we seek to offer a space where gender diverse people can feel welcome, safe and affirmed.
We understand that for some families this may be a new way of thinking and recognize that topics of gender diversity may be uncomfortable or difficult. At the same time, for other families these practices may help reassure them that we are striving to provide a safe and affirming environment for their child at camp. Ultimately, we believe that through learning from each other’s experiences and stories, we create a more empathetic, safe and welcoming culture. In our efforts to be inclusive of ALL campers, we understand you or your child may have questions regarding our practices. We welcome questions grounded in respect and curiosity. We encourage you to contact us and we will seek to answer your questions and grow within our culture of inclusivity.
What cabin options are available for my youth camper?
New in 2023, Pilgrim Lodge will offer an All-Gender Cabin option in addition to girls cabins and boys cabins. During the registration process for youth camps*, families will complete a “Cabin Preference” form in UltraCamp and will have a choice to opt-in to the cabin choices which are the right fit for their camper (more than one cabin choice may be selected if the camper is comfortable opting-in to more than one cabin type). Pilgrim Lodge welcomes campers from across the gender spectrum. This means that any cabin selected may include a camper whose gender identity is different from your own camper’s gender identity.
Families can select from the following:
- Girls Cabins: for 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).
- Boys Cabins: for cisgender boys (assigned male at birth and identify as male), trans boys (assigned female at birth and identify as male), trans girls (assigned male at birth and identify as female), and nonbinary campers (assigned either male or female at birth and identify as neither or both male and female).
- All-Gender Cabins: for anyone and everyone who feels safest in this space, including gender diverse campers or cisgender campers who identify with their sex assigned at birth. People who select this housing option are comfortable being housed with people of all different gender identities. (Note that, if you select this as the only option for your camper and there are not enough campers who opt-in to an All-Gender Cabin, we will contact you to determine which cabin will be the best fit for your camper).
Families will not be notified of the names, medical histories, or any other personal information about their child’s cabin mates or counselors before, during, or after their session.
*The Cabin Preference Form is not included in the registration process for Camp Pride as all cabins for this session are already All-Gender Cabins. Families registering a camper for this session are welcome to be in touch with the camp office if there are questions or information to share about the cabin assignment for their camper.
How will privacy be handled in the cabins?
Counselors work with the campers to set agreements around behavior and boundaries in the cabin. All campers and counselors will be encouraged to use a private changing space in the cabin. Public nudity is not permitted in any cabin.
Campers are not permitted inside cabins that are not their own nor are they allowed in one another’s beds. Sexual activity between campers is never permitted among any campers and is grounds for dismissal from camp.
Each cabin has a single-occupancy bathroom and a single shower room. (All-gender and single-occupancy restrooms are also available in the main Lodge and Dining Hall where activities take place.)
What practices are in place to keep campers safe?
All counselors that supervise cabins are age 18 or older (a cabin may include a Counselors-in-Training which will be between the ages of 16 and 18 and will always be paired with a counselor over the age of 18). Counselors complete an application and screening process and undergo an annual background check. We maintain a staff to camper supervision ratio of 1:8.
Counselors, Deans and camp staff participate in training before campers arrive at camp to review strategies and procedures for maintaining a safe environment at camp.
Just as topics such as race, ethnicity, and personal faith or religious views are not off limits when discussed with respect and authenticity, conversations related to gender diversity may also arise and be handled with respect and care. Our counselors will be trained in how to answer basic questions about gender at an age-appropriate level so that campers of gender minorities do not have to (unless they want to) as well as how to escalate these questions to the Deans or Camp Director, if necessary. To be a little uncomfortable is a good way to stretch and grow, feeling unsafe can be traumatizing. Therefore, if there is an issue of chronic bullying in a cabin, steps will be taken to attempt to resolve the issue with the camper, but if it continues the camper doing the bullying will be sent home.
How are names and pronouns handled?
At Pilgrim Lodge, we invite campers, volunteers and staff to share their names and pronouns during introductions. No one is required to share pronouns if they do not want to and, in that case, will simply be referred to by their name. We respect a camper’s decision to share their name and pronouns. If a camper chooses to use a different name than that listed on their registration form, counselors will use the name that campers use for themselves. Counselors and staff will not inform the camper’s parent or guardian of their name and pronouns used at camp unless the camper requests that they do so. The unique experience of camp is that campers are able to explore who they are away from their families and social circles at home. As with any number of activities or experiences provided by being at camp, all of this is part of healthy development and does not need to be shared.
Will these gender inclusion practices take away from my camper’s experience?
Not at all! In fact, we believe that diversity enhances the camp experience and that gender inclusive practices support every camper’s experience and safety in the camp setting. We will continue to train counselors and staff that there are many ways to identify and express ourselves. Growing in empathy, acceptance of others, and celebrating our unique identities not only doesn’t disrupt the camp experience, it makes it a more enriching and fun environment for your camper as well as their friends.