Gender Inclusive Cabin FAQs
Beginning in 2021, we were so excited to be offering campers a Gender Inclusive Cabin. This is to ensure that ALL campers feel included and welcome at Sherbrooke Lake Camp. We encourage guardians to have the discussion with their camper around which cabin best fits their needs and comfort level. You can choose to opt into up to 2 cabin options.
United Church Statement:
The United Church affirms that gender and sexuality are gifts of God, and that all persons are made in the image of God. We welcome into full membership and ministry people of all sexual orientations and gender identities. The United Church is opposed to discrimination against any person on any basis by which a person is devalued
The struggle for justice against sexism and gender-based violence, and towards justice for people of all gender identities and sexual orientations, are fundamental ways in which the United Church seeks to transform structures and systems and be faithful to God's vision for humanity.
Even as we seek to eliminate sexism, misogyny, homophobia, biphobia, and transphobia, we know that we, too, are guilty of these forms of oppression. We acknowledge the roles that Christianity and religion in general play in such oppression. We hear the call to take action to end all forms of discrimination. We acknowledge that the work of justice is not just about how we treat people who enter the four walls of our church; what matters is how we treat people out in the world. We are committed to journeying to where all people live in justice and peace together.
Frequently Asked Questions Regarding our Gender Inclusive Cabin and Gender Inclusion Policy
This was written by our amazing staff alumni Alex Butler, Hannah Bawn and Maddie Stewart.
*Terminology and definitions can be found below
Why do we have a gender inclusive cabin?
Sherbrooke Lake Camp is an Incorporated Ministry of the United Church of Canada, Sherbrooke Lake Camp is a welcoming and affirming community. We believe every person has the right to identify, express themselves and live in accordance with their authentic identity. Traditionally our cabin system has been structured according to an assumed binary division between male and female or boy and girl campers. Organizing our cabins solely according to a male/female division perpetuates heteronormative and cisnormative ideas of gender and sexuality that do not make space for equally valid forms of non-binary gender expression. For campers and staff who identify as non-binary, being asked to choose between a two spaces binary gendered spaces is harmful and exclusive. Moving forward, Sherbrooke Lake is committed to creating a space in which people of all gender identities and sexualities feel welcome, safe and celebrated. The introduction of our gender inclusive cabin option this summer is an important step toward the creation of such a space.
How do I ensure my camper is placed in the cabin best suited for them?
Before coming out to camp this summer, we require a set of forms to be filled out for each camper that gives us information about any medical conditions, allergies, dietary restrictions, etc. Anything we need to know before you send your little one to us for the week! This year, you will also have the opportunity to indicate on this form whether or not your child would like to be placed in the gender inclusive cabin. You can select up to two of the following three choices: Gender inclusive cabin, Female spectrum cabin or Male spectrum cabin. Male and Female spectrum cabins will be hosted by staff who identify with male and female expressions of gender identity and campers who also identify or feel comfortable in these gendered spaces. There will also be the option to include a brief explanation of why your camper would like to be placed in a certain cabin, although this explanation will not be mandatory.
Who can be in our gender inclusive cabin? Is this cabin only for non-binary or transgender campers?
This cabin is open to campers of all gender identities! We encourage campers who would like to be in a cabin with their siblings or friends who use different pronouns to opt into the gender inclusive cabin. We also want to emphasize that if your camper identifies as non-binary, transgender, gender fluid or uses they/them pronouns, they are also free to choose which cabin is best suited for them. If a non-binary camper would prefer to be in a female or male spectrum cabin we fully support this decision and will always defer to their preference. Depending on the number of campers each week who choose to opt in to the gender inclusive cabin, we may offer more than one such cabin each week.
Who will be in charge of the gender inclusive cabin? What will their gender be?
Our policy of camper gender affirmation and inclusion also extends to our staff members. Counsellors and Counsellors in Training (CIT) will be asked what cabins they feel comfortable overseeing and will be assigned accordingly. All of our staff have been trained in creating gender inclusive spaces and will be held accountable to a rigorous code of conduct and standard of professionalism. We are confident that any staff member or CIT charged with overseeing our gender inclusive cabin will uphold our guidelines and policies regarding workplace conduct.
Where will campers get changed?
Over the last few years, Sherbrooke Lake has been rebuilding and upgrading all of our cabins. Currently all but one of our nine cabins is newly constructed and equipped with a private changing area for campers to use. This ensures that campers in these cabins have access to privacy while getting dressed throughout the day. Only the eight cabins equipped with change rooms will be in use this summer.
What about bathrooms?
At Sherbrooke we love our latrines! Each of our outhouses is a single stall, private toilet that can be used by any camper or staff member.
If you have any further questions about our Gender Inclusive Cabin or Gender Inclusion policy, please contact us through any of the following emails: Registration@sherbrookelakecamp.org, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com
*If you are unsure or curious about some of the terminology used in the statements above, here are some helpful definitions:
Gender Identity: Every person has a gender identity. This identity is constituted by the way we choose to dress, the pronouns we use and the way we understand ourselves as individuals. Gender identity is different from sexuality which refers to a person’s sexual orientation. Gender identity is also different from a person's sexual identity which is characterized by physical attributes of a person’s body, including their genitalia, reproductive organs and hormones.
Non-binary: Adjective. The term non-binary refers to a gender identity that does not directly reflect or represent the traits and qualities of male/female or traditionally masculine/feminine gender identities. People who identify as non-binary may feel more comfortable presenting as a blend of both male and female gender identities, they may identify with neither masculine nor feminine gender expressions or they may gravitate more towards one while still not feeling that they are a boy or a girl. Non-binary people often use they/them pronouns, altough some also identify with she/they, he/they, etc. Non-binary gender identities are equally valid forms of gender expression as binary expressions of boy and girl. At camp we recognize that there is no one way to be non-binary and respect and welcome all forms of gender expression that may be considered non-binary.
Transgender: Adjective. Someone whose gender identity differs from the one that was assigned at birth. Many transgender people idemtofy as either male or female, while others may see transgender an umbrella term and identify as gender non-conforming or queer. How trandsgender people choose to express their gender is individualistic, as is their transition.
For some people transitioning includes changing the way they dress, style, and present themselves. Others may not feel compelled to modify these aspects of their identity but are equally valid in their transgender identity. At camp we are committed to supporting and celebrating transgender campers and staff in every moment of their transition or in exploration of their gender identity.
Female Spectrum/Male Spectrum: Gender is often understood according to a binary division between male and female or boy and girl. This understanding of gender suggests that a person chooses one of two genders and shapes their identity both internally and externally to match. However, gender is better understood as a broad spectrum of unique identities within which an individual may feel drawn to one, multiple or no specific identities. By identifying some of our cabins as male and female spectrum cabins we recognize that some campers and staff, who may or may not use binary pronouns or identify as a binary gender, may still feel more comfortable in a cabin structured according to more overtly masculine or feminine gender expressions. Describing gender expression in terms of a spectrum allows for a space in which both cisgender and non-binary people can feel welcome and affirmed.
Cisgender: Adjective. A person whose gender identity matches the gender they were assigned at birth.
Heteronormative: This term describes ideas, pracitices and policies that promote and reinforce the generalized assumption that most people identify with a binary gender identity and are sexually or romatically attracted to people on the other side of that binary.
Further Reading and Resources
If you are interested in learning more about the United Church’s commitment to gender affirmation and inclusion, check out these links:
The United Church of Canada, Gender, Sexuality and Orientation,
Affirm United, Affirming Ministries: Frequently Asked Questions, https://affirmunited.ause.ca/frequently-asked-questions-about-affirm-united-saffirmer-ensemble/
The Youth Project, Resources and Information, https://youthproject.ns.ca/resources/resources-and-information/
For more definitions see: It Gets Better, LGBTQ+ Glossary,
If your camp is interested in Gender Inclusive Cabins, please don't simply copy and paste! Contact our Operations Director to collaborate and discuss!