In 2015, thanks to generous gifts from donors, the Foundation awarded a grant of $3,750 to Camp Tapawingo for their first ever camp for transgendered children and their siblings. Here is a brief description of what your donations enabled in the words of a mother of some of the campers.
“Every child deserves a safe place. A place where they are encouraged to be their true self. To make new friends, to play free from judgement and bullies.
Being a mom of three gender variant children I was afraid to give my children the experience of camp. To experience the life of cabins, beaches and friends. I was afraid that my children would be singled out as weird, bullied by staff and other children for the simple fact that they do not fit into the gender norm.
I asked around and after being refused twice, I was told by Rev. Kim Craig about Camp Tapawingo. I contacted Ruth from the board and she said she would take my request to the board the following week. One week later not only did I get a resounding YES! I also received the news that Alison Starks, the director in Edmonton for Camp Fyrfly, had agreed to run the camp.
I was in Edmonton and had the pleasure of meeting with AJ face to face. Both of us were very excited at the prospect of having this camp for children ages seven to 13 who happen to be transgender and extended the invitation to their siblings as well. Word got out about our camp. Twenty- two children, trans-gender, two spirited children and cisgender children invaded the camp.
The only suggestion we had from the campers was that it be longer! Friendships were formed; some came from Alberta. Connections and assurances that they were safe, accepted and valued for their authentic selves was a blessing. These young humans continue their support of each other in the form of e-mails and texts.
As a mom I am so thankful to Ruth and the board of Camp Tapawingo. I speak for all the parents that we are thankful for A.J. and her staff. I read one comment from a boy who is eleven and trans… ‘I had the best time of my life at camp!’ That says it all.
Now next year I plan to do some contacting of other United Church camps across Canada. We need a Camp Caterpillar for every child, in every province!”
If you want to start a camp in your area, you can reach Fran at firstname.lastname@example.org