Gender Inclusion at Mass Audubon Camps
At Mass Audubon Camps, we strive to create a safe, inclusive, and caring camp environment where each person is respected and supported in their learning and growth. We believe that diversity—both in nature and in our human communities—is essential to strength, resilience, and innovation, and we are committed to recognizing the unique contributions of each community member.
While Mass Audubon has always welcomed campers of all backgrounds and identities, we are updating and sharing our policies so that Mass Audubon can become more inclusive, accepting, and affirming of trans and gender-diverse young people. These are our updated guidelines regarding gender inclusion.
Names and Pronouns
Mass Audubon values and celebrates all campers, including those who are members of the LGBTQIA2S+ community. To respect campers’ and counselors’ identities, campers and staff are invited to share pronouns during morning circle or start-of-day activities. No one is required to share pronouns, but we do ask that all campers and staff respect and use the names and pronouns that correspond with how campers and staff introduce themselves.
Please know, if a camper chooses to use a different name or pronoun than those listed on their registration form, counselors will use the name and pronouns campers use for themselves.
Counselors and Staff
Mass Audubon has never required counselors (nor campers) to disclose any details of their gender identity or transitions, and we do not plan to create such a policy. Staff are invited to share their pronouns to ensure that colleagues interact and communicate respectfully. During staff training, staff learn techniques to support people of all gender identities at camp.
Mass Audubon believes there is no “right way” for campers to be themselves. Campers may wear whatever makes them comfortable; clothing may not include references to drugs, alcohol, sex, profanity, or other slogans or images that may be threatening or offensive to others.
Frequently Asked Questions
Will campers and counselors discuss gender identity at camp?
Maybe! It’s difficult to predict what topics of conversation will arise as campers share about their lives. We do not teach gender identity curriculum, but if/when gender identity comes up in conversation, it’s important that we are prepared to address this developmental topic in a respectful and inclusive manner, always paying attention to age-appropriateness.
For example, if a camper says something hurtful about another camper regarding their gender, this must be addressed immediately. In this example, a counselor must comment on the inappropriateness of hurtful communications and share that our organizational values are to respect all genders and gender expressions. It’s a “teachable moment” where we can discuss the importance of mutual respect for and among people who have different values. This is how we build an inclusive camp community. 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.
At Mass Audubon Camps, we value inclusion and strive to create and steward inclusive camp communities, independent of personal beliefs and cultural norms. This means that, as representatives of Mass Audubon Camps, we can respect different values around gender identity and expression as they are held by different individuals, families, and cultures who participate in our camps. At the same time, we will not tolerate use of personal beliefs or cultural norms to bully, harass, or threaten another participant regardless of their personal values and beliefs. We are centered on being inclusive.
Do other camps have policies like these?
Yes! Mass Audubon Camps are 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. Mass Audubon is also working with James Shultis from Translate Gender, a professional consultant for organizations (including summer camps) looking to make braver, safer, and more inclusive spaces for trans and non-gender conforming youth.
I'm unfamiliar with some of these terms. Where can I learn more?
To learn more, we recommend the following resources:
- The National Center for Transgender Equity defines terms like Transgender and Non-Binary.
- The American Camp Association provides guidance for Serving the Needs of Trans Campers.
- From the Human Rights Campaign, a primer on Transgender Children & Youth: Understanding the Basics.
- The Trevor Project provides many resources for young people and allies about Gender Identity.
Who do I contact if I have questions?
If you have any questions or would like to learn more about our inclusion guidelines for camp, please contact our Statewide Director of Camps at [email protected].