Sooke’s Camp Thunderbird is one of the island’s oldest and most popular summer camps available, and this year big changes are coming to where children will be setting up their bunks.
The YMCA/YWCA overnight summer camp is offering cabins that house all genders for campers who have completed grades three through five, or who are approximately eight to eleven-years-old.
The move comes after many attendees contacted Camp Thunderbird about bunking with their friends of different genders, and to help lead inclusivity in youth.
“[The idea] started coming up in surveys for us a few years ago, and two things showed up,” said camp director Luke Ferris.
“The first was that some kids wanted to be registered in cabin groups with their best friends who were of a different gender, and there were some kids that come to camp that identify as transgender and we wanted to accommodate that,” he said.
According to the camp’s website, there will be no limit on how many participants from any particular gender register in one cabin, as it is always “first come, first served”. However, cabin requests will always be considered for those who want to stick with their friends.
These mixed groups will also stay in cabins with private bathrooms.
The camp is unsure of how many all-gendered cabins there will be in total, as it depends on how many children register for this option. If the cabins are popular, Ferris says that there is “flexibility” in the number of spaces that can support the new policy.
The gender-inclusive cabins will be available for two weeks in August, between the 5th to 9th and 19th to 23rd.
Camp Thunderbird will be open for school programs at the end of April, and Summer camps will begin once schools end for Summer break in June.