Gender at Farm & Wilderness

Farm & Wilderness strives to empower young people to understand and navigate the social pressures they encounter in their lives, pressures that may be related to their gender identity. At Farm & Wilderness, we offer community members the opportunity to choose a camp environment that best supports their gender identity.  To this end, all programs educate about gender during the summer to provide a safe space for campers to share their thoughts on and experiences with gender, and to become familiar with others’ experiences. These conversations vary depending on the ages of the participants and may include an understanding of the following terms.

Assigned sex: Biological sex (male, female, intersex) as determined at birth by a medical professional.

Gender Identity: An individual’s internal sense of being male, female, or something else. Since gender identity is internal, one’s gender identity is not necessarily visible to others.

Gender Non-Binary: Any gender that is not exclusively male or female, which includes intersex.

Cisgender: People whose gender identity is the same as their sex assigned at birth.

Transgender: People whose gender identity, expression or behavior is different from those typically associated with their assigned sex at birth. Transgender is a broad term and is good for non-transgender people to use.

Farm & Wilderness camps and communities are not divided by an individual’s sex assigned at birth. Rather, we support each community member to be in housing that most aligns with their gender identity. F&W includes non-binary and transgender staff and youth, and to model inclusivity, we ask that all community members share their gender pronouns as willing. F&W is a place where campers and staff (housed in tents/cabins, etc.) use the full spectrum of gender pronouns (she, he, they, ze) and identify within the full non-binary spectrum of gender.

Here’s what gender looks like across our programs:

At Flying Cloud  and Timberlake, campers and staff discuss masculinity and the male experience.  In saying masculinity, note that not everyone identifying as masculine identifies as a boy or a man. Community members discuss social pressures and engage in conversations about what it means to be male. Our communities explore what gender means to individuals and to their own identity through respect, simplicity, and honoring the land and spirit. The result is a meaningful opportunity to challenge male social constructs and prejudices, such as homophobia, transphobia, and misogyny.

At Indian Brook  & Red Spruce Grove, campers and staff discuss femininity and the female experience.  In saying femininity, note that not everyone identifying as feminine identifies as a girl or a woman. Community members discuss social pressures and engage in conversations about what it means to be female. Our communities explore what gender means to individuals and to their own identity through respect, simplicity, and honoring the land and spirit. The result is a meaningful opportunity to challenge female social constructs and prejudices, such as homophobia, transphobia, and misogyny.

At Saltash Mountain Camp, Questers, and Tamarack Farm, these mixed-gender communities explore individual gender identities while developing empathy, critical thinking, and skills to advocate for others whose gender identities differ from themselves. Tamarack Farmers have several housing options: mixed-gender housing, girls and gender non-binary cabin, or boys and gender non-binary cabin. Tent group assignments at Saltash Mountain Camp and Tamarack Farm on multi-day trips are based on the cabin assignment at camp, though parents or guardians can opt for mixed-gender tent arrangement. Quester cabin and tent groups are often mixed-gender. The result is a meaningful opportunity to challenge male and female social constructs and prejudices, such as homophobia, transphobia, and misogyny.

At Barn Day Camp, our youngest members of the F&W community, staff, and campers create a community where children are free from experiences based on the gender binary. The community explores gender stereotypes through activities offered. At the Barn Day Camp, gender identity and social justice are woven in throughout the day.

Gendered housing at Farm & Wilderness

At Farm & Wilderness, based on Quaker belief of valuing the Light in everyone, we seek to provide equitable access to programs and the organization.  We recognize that conversations about gender identity are new for many participants attending Farm & Wilderness, but very present and important to others.  Related to gender, we have camp programs that are gendered, like Indian Brook and Red Spruce Grove that are open to campers and staff identifying as female or gender nonbinary (all but cis-male), and Timberlake and Flying Cloud that are open to campers and staff identifying as male or gender nonbinary (with some cis-female in non-cabin roles at Timberlake). When it comes to camper and staff housing options, we use the same assignment as at the camp, with some exceptions that are vetted through camp and staff leadership. We spent a few years in a thoughtful process from the camp to board level to arrive at this outcome.

What does that mean for my child?

  1. Our housing is very open, from open, three-sided cabins to tents, and counselors work with campers to ensure their privacy, sense of safety and space.
  2. We support our cabin staff who identify (gender) in various ways to be in situations and housing that both considers the camper experience as well as the staff and have practices and expectations in place to protect them as well as the campers’ safety and comfort.
  3. Because F&W’s general policies for camps and housing rely more on gender identity rather than sex assigned at birth, it’s possible your child may live in a cabin or tent with campers or counselors of a different sex assigned at birth than your child.
  4. Your child may also live in a cabin or tent with a camper or counselor who uses pronouns and/or identifies differently than the assigned gender of the cabin. In this case, the cabin placement decision was vetted through camp leadership, and based on the shared experience of the participant/counselor.
  5. On trips, tent housing mirrors the cabin designation for all. We offer parents the opportunity to waive this and opt the camper into mixed gendered tents, when available for the mixed gender camps. Questers live in mixed gendered spaces when at camp and on the trail.
  6. We ask you to share how your child identifies, that staff may meet them where they are, and respect who they are. We know that even within a year’s time, this may change, which is why your detailed and updated registration information is important.
  7. All staff receive comprehensive training in boundaries, so that regardless of how your child’s counselor or their cabinmates identify, staff understand and are held to high standards to not cross boundaries, both physical and emotional. Conversations are also held with campers so that they are aware of boundaries related to physical and emotional safety. We educate participants and staff about whom they may go to if they are feeling unsafe, and we can investigate concerns where appropriate, and take remedial action if necessary. Our camps are accredited by the American Camp Association, which involves periodic inspections of aspects of our programs to promote the safety of program participants.
  8. We continue to explore the need at some camps for nongendered housing spaces. We offer the option of a nongendered cabin at Tamarack Farm.  As times and practices evolve, we seek parent, staff and community input to remain responsive to shifting culture and best practice.