Summer camp with a difference

ECF supports a place for trans and gender-creative kids to be themselves

From art to science to sports, there are numerous camps for kids to enjoy during the summer months. But for trans+ and gender-creative youth, camp may not feel like a space for them to be themselves. This is one of the  reasons why Camp Dragonfly was created in 2018.

Camp Dragonfly brings together trans+ and gender creative youth aged 6-13 for “creativity, connection and celebration.” This year the camp will be held Aug 23-25 and hopes to host 100 kids.

“The demand is just growing and growing. I think especially with the political climate, what it is right now, those kids are looking for connections now more than ever and looking for those safe spaces now more than ever. So, we expect it to keep growing,” explains Camp Dragonfly Co-facilitator Kiana Chouinard.

Activities this year will include dance, coding and improv. Swimming is also on the itinerary, as Chouinard explains this will be the first time many participants have gone into a pool.

“They don’t know what to wear, they don’t know if it’s going to be safe, they don’t know what other people are going to say (and) they don’t know what changeroom to go into. So, one of my favourite parts about the Camp Dragonfly community is watching those kiddos really come into themselves in that way and realize that they can wear whatever they want and they don’t have to be worried about what other people think.”

Joanne Currie, who directs Grants and Community Engagement at the Edmonton Community Foundation (ECF), agrees. She says Camp Dragonfly’s inclusivity was a big factor in ECF’s decision to provide it with $10,000 through its Small Grants Program.

This funding helped cover operational expenses allowing the camp to benefit 125 people, including subsidizing camping fees for 20 families.

“Offering safe places for young people to develop and discover themselves is crucial. We’re thrilled to witness increasing numbers of families benefiting from Camp Dragonfly’s fantastic services, and we’re proud to support their efforts to bring this community together,” she says.

Community connection is one of the pillars of Camp Dragonfly. This connection is not only to support the youth attending but extends to their families. During the weekend the camp gives space for parents and families to connect with one another.

“This is not in the parenting 101 handbook, they don’t know what to do, they don’t know who to talk to, they don’t know how to find other grownups who relate to them,” says Chouinard. “So that’s a really big part of camp, we
throw a caregiver support circle, which we’re working on getting funding and grants to make that a monthly thing throughout the year, to give those caregivers support and a place to help.”

Those looking to register or volunteer this year can visit Camp Dragonfly’s website.