Inclusive spaces at camp

Creating a Safe Space for Every Member of our Community

Holiday Hill Day Camp is committed to wholeheartedly embracing campers of all races, nationalities, religions, gender identities, and sexual orientations. We are committed to creating a safe, welcoming space for every camper, family, and staff member. We believe in building a community that stands against prejudice, discrimination, and stereotyping.

Holiday Hill is a camp for campers of all races, ethnicities, and cultural backgrounds. Our leaders are aware of inherent biases that are all too common in society. We are doing our part to address and correct these biases and we work with our staff and leadership to ensure our practices at camp create a space in which all campers will feel supported. We understand that historically people of color have not had access to the camp experience or have not felt welcomed in summer camp spaces.

Holiday Hill Day Camp is inclusive of the LGBTQIA+ community and welcomes and supports trans* campers. We are committed to ensuring that all campers feel a sense of belonging and support at summer camp, and recognize that working toward an equitable camp experience will be an ongoing process.

Our community welcomes and supports neurodivergent campers and staff, and we invite all families to get in touch with us to discuss ideas or concerns regarding your camper and their participation at camp. Our Finches program for campers with individualized needs may be an option.

Gender-Inclusive Practices

While we understand that for some families, topics of gender or sexuality may be uncomfortable or difficult, we believe that through learning from each other’s experiences and stories we ultimately create a more empathetic and welcoming culture for all. We understand you may have questions regarding our policies. We seek to answer your questions and grow within our culture of inclusivity. We will, however, not compromise on being a camp for every camper. Our mission is to create a community that is welcoming and inclusive for all. 

Our practices at camp that are geared to creating an equitable and safe environment for all campers include:

  • An opportunity to specify preferred pronouns during registration or application for employment
  • Campers may change pronouns once at camp if they are not “out” to the person who registered them – the person who registered them will not be informed of these changes
  • Names & pronouns are often part of our introductions
  • No activities or groups are specified on the basis of gender. 
  • Private changing areas in our bathhouse
  • An option to use a private, gender-neutral restroom
  • We respect all special care requirements for identity affirming undergarments, prosthetics etc., and will make arrangements for these
  • Staff are trained on creating safe(r) spaces for queer, trans* and non-binary campers and staff

Contact our Directors to work on a support plan for the camper(s) in your family. We welcome all families to get in touch with us to discuss ideas or concerns regarding your camper and their acceptance at Holiday Hill.

Frequently asked questions

How will counselors be trained in gender-inclusive practices?
Every staff member takes part in our training before campers arrive. Our staff training includes learning and practicing to make all spaces at camp safe and welcoming for all campers as well as role playing how to respond to situations that could compromise that safety. 

What if my camper has questions or concerns about these practices before or during camp?
We love questions – as long as they come from genuine curiosity and are asked in a respectful way to the right people! If your camper has a question about our gender-inclusive practices prior to Camp we are happy to speak to them or you in whichever way they feel most comfortable. 

If they have a question during camp they can ask their counselor, a leadership team member, a nurse, or one of the Directors. Any staff member will happily answer their question to the best of our ability. We are happy to answer questions about how we make these practices work, clarify misunderstandings, and even share why this is important to us. In all our conversations we operate with the understanding that trans, non-binary and queer campers are loved and valuable and that we will do our best to ensure that they know this to be true through our gender-inclusive actions and not just our words.

Isn’t this a lot of work to accommodate a small number of people?
Our inclusive practices benefit everyone!

Won’t creating gender inclusive spaces encourage more kids to change their gender?
No. They will, however, provide a space for campers to express their gender authentically and without harm. 

Most campers will not even notice gender inclusive practices as being specifically “gender inclusive.” Many campers (regardless of gender) want a private place to change and all campers deserve safety, privacy, respect for their body and belongings, and deserve a place where they feel safe and respected.

Why is Holiday Hill taking a side on such a politically charged issue?
Frankly, we don’t see this as a politically charged issue. We see our mission of community building as a call to be inclusive and welcoming of all campers.

We wanted to send our kid to camp to have fun, not to learn about these types of issues. Can you ensure this will not disrupt their childhood?

Growing in empathy and acceptance for others not only doesn’t disrupt childhood, it makes it a more fun experience for your camper as well as their friends. Holiday Hill is dedicated to having a great time in the outdoors, and making great friends with peers and supportive staff members. These policies pave the way for this and more!

Ancestral Native Lands Acknowledgement

Holiday Hill Day Camp is located in Mansfield Center, Connecticut which was settled on the traditional territory of a variety of Native peoples. It is also worth noting that acknowledging the land is Indigenous practice. Learn More

We recognize and honor the Mohegan, Mashantucket Pequot, Eastern Pequot, Schaghticoke, Golden Hill Paugussett, Nipmuc, and Lenape Peoples, who have stewarded this land throughout the generations. We respect the traditional values of these Tribes and affirm their inherent sovereignty in this territory. We support their efforts for land and water protection and restoration, and for cultural healing and recovery. 

We pause in remembrance of these peoples whose lives and land were taken through genocidal strategies of the colonial settlement of this land. We pay respect to elders both past and present, and we commit to the ongoing work of decolonization in Connecticut and beyond.

We commit to furthering our education and relationship with Native peoples so that we may be responsible stewards of their homelands. We recognize that we are at the beginning of this work and have much to do, and that we do it with open hearts, minds, and spirits.