US: Camp Aranu’tiq provides trans youth a safe, accepting summer camp experience

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A non-traditional summer camp is making a difference for transgender and gender-variant children who are often barred from the experience of summer camp.

Camp Aranu’tiq was founded by Nick Teich, a transgender man, in 2009.

The camp gives transgender and gender-variant youth a chance to experience a summer camp that affirms their gender and recognises their experience as trans kids.

According to The Huffington Post, Teich had grown up with a love for summer camp, eventually becoming a camp counselor.

When he transitioned in his twenties, however, he was told that it would be too “Jerry Springer” for him to be a summer camp volunteer.

To help trans children and adults still have access to the summer camp experience, he founded Camp Aranu’tiq.

In Chugach, the language of an Alaskan indigenous group, aranu’tiq means a person who embodies male and female spirit.

Unlike most summer camps, Camp Aranu’tiq is not broken up by binary gender. Instead, children are broken up by age and gender expression.

The camp operates like a traditional summer camp for kids ages 8 through 15, providing activities like swimming, hiking, and rowing.

Camp Aranu’tiq is composed of an East Coast camp, a West Coast camp, a family camp and a leadership camp for young adults 16 to 18. About 400 campers attend Camp Aranu’tiq each year.

Mary Moss, who wrote a piece for The Huffington Post about the camp, said: “I met several wonderful parents and one thing we all had in common were the huge smiles on our faces.

“Our kids would be happy for one beautiful week. Our kids would be accepted and called by their correct pronoun. Our kids wouldn’t be bullied or harassed for being who they are. Our kids would be safe.

She added: “As a parent of a trans kid you are constantly worried about a phone call. A phone call from their school or the police. A phone call that your child was hurt or worse. That dreaded phone call haunts you.

“This week that phone call would not come and we were grateful. We all smiled with relief on our rides home and we slept well that week knowing our kids were at their safe haven.”

Last summer, a camp for LGBT youths launched in the UK, aimed at reaching out to teenagers who may feel isolated or lonely because of their sexuality or gender identity.