A northern California day camp that has made its mission to cater to transgender and "gender fluid" children, hosts campers ranging from ages four to twelve each summer.
According to a report by The Associated Press, the Rainbow Day Camp, in El Cerrito, California, allows campers to make a nametag with their pronoun of choice each morning at check in.
“Some opt for ‘she’ or ‘he.’ Or a combination of ‘she/he.’ Or ‘they,’ or no pronoun at all. Some change their name or pronouns daily, to see what feels right,” says the report.
Since its founding in 2014, the camp has grown significantly, tripling its enrollment from 20 to almost 60 children. Campers come from Los Angeles, Washington, D.C. and even Africa to attend the so-called “one of a kind” day camp.
Founder Sandra Collins said that she was inspired to create the camp after her son realized he wanted to be a girl at just two-years-old.
“I didn’t know you could be transgender at a very young age, but my daughter knew for sure at 2,” she said.
“I feel comfortable for being who I am and who I want to be,” said Scarlett Reinhold, Collins’ son who is now a nine-year-old fourth grader.
Parent Molly Maxwell told AP that her six-year-old son, who uses feminine pronouns and goes by Gracie Maxwell, has been growing his hair out, dressing in female clothing, seeing an LGBT specialist, and attending a transgender play group since he was four.
“Once she could talk, I don’t remember a time when she didn’t say, ‘I’m a girl,'” said Maxwell. “Then it grew in intensity: ‘I’m a sister. I’m a daughter. I’m a princess.’ We would argue with her. She was confused. We were confused.”
Maxwell explains that the day camp allows her biologically born son to be “herself.”
“I see her now, compared to before. I watch her strut around and dance and sing and the way she talks about herself. If she was forced to be someone else,” Maxwell said, “I don’t even want to think about that.”
According to the camp’s website, the “play-based camp provides a safe space for the exploration of gender identity and expression, to build community for gender expansive youth and their families and to support these youth and their families with self-empowerment and resiliency curriculum.”
Transgender teen "girl" Jazz Jennings. (amazon.com)
Therapists, many transgender themselves, are available to both campers and parents throughout the camp experience.
In addition to the day camp, the company also offers a “social day camp for gender non-binary, questioning, genderqueer and trans teens” for children ages 13-17.
Because of the success they have seen in recent years, Rainbow Day Camp is reportedly looking into opening branches in Colorado, Atlanta, Seattle,and Louisiana.
“I want to show these kids what a confident, happy, successful trans person looks like,” said 30-year-old camp Director Andrew Kramer, who has identified as a man since she was 26. “We teach them they are normal, deserving of love and not alone.”